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August 3, 2006 Edition

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War in Middle East:
Pope calls for cease-fire, prayer, aid

Will the killing of children help put a stop to the war in the Middle East between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrillas? The recent deaths of at least 37 children in Lebanon seemed to push Pope Benedict XVI to increase his pleas for a cease-fire.

On July 30, the Holy Father launched an impassioned appeal for a cease-fire in the Middle East, saying it was impossible that military action would create the conditions needed for a lasting peace in the region.

Stop the spiral of violence. "In the name of God, I address all those responsible for this spiral of violence so that immediately on all sides the weapons would be laid down," the pope said July 30 before reciting the midday Angelus prayer. His remarks were reported in a Catholic News Service (CNS) article.

Speaking at his summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, the pope made his appeal several hours after an Israeli air raid in Qana, Lebanon, led to the deaths of some 60 civilians, including at least 37 children. The attack on Qana brought Lebanon's death toll to more than 510 since fighting began mid-July, reported CNS.

Israel, which maintained Hezbollah guerrillas were using civilians as human shields, promised an investigation into the incident and later declared a 48-hour suspension of aerial bombings. Fighting resumed July 31.

Increase prayers for peace. Asking people to increase their prayers for peace, Pope Benedict said the situation in Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinian territories was becoming more and more "serious and tragic." At the same time, he said, "in the hearts of many people, hatred and the desire for vengeance seem to grow.

Pope Benedict asked the leaders of governments around the world to do everything possible to achieve a cease-fire and "begin building, through dialogue, a lasting and stable coexistence among all the peoples of the Middle East."

Humanitarian aid. The pope also appealed for continued donations for humanitarian aid for the suffering and displaced. One example of generous giving was a $100,000 donation by the Knights of Columbus to Caritas Lebanon.

The following are Catholic aid agencies appealing for donations to assist those in need in the Middle East:

Catholic Near East Welfare Association -- phone: (800) 442-6392; online: www.cnewa.org; or mail to: CNEWA, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022-4195.

Catholic Relief Services -- phone: (888) 435-7277; online: www.crs.org; or mail to: Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090. Earmark funds "Middle East Crisis Response."

Let us follow our Holy Father's request to pray for peace and give aid to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

Mary C. Uhler

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We reserve the right to edit or reject letters. Limit letters to 200 words or less. All letters must be signed. Please include your city or town of residence.

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The Catholic Herald
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Madison, WI 53744-4985

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E-mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org

Cathedral remain downtown

To the editor:

More articles on
St. Raphael Cathedral

St. Raphael is the archangel who guides. What a perfect angel to have our cathedral named for. Since Madison is the capital of Wisconsin, and downtown Madison is the center of our governmental, business, and social lives, it fits that St. Raphael Cathedral remain downtown and let St. Raphael guide us as we build our society into the new century.

The Catholic Church must have a strong, visible presence in Madison, which is a very diverse community. I believe that by keeping the cathedral downtown we will be able to make the Catholic voice a strong voice, something that has been lost all too often in the past in Madison.

We have been given a once in a life time opportunity to make a very public stand for what we believe in, and we must make the most of this wonderful opportunity by building a new place of worship, fellowship, and study. I pray we will do the right thing and be a very visible and active church in a very active community.

James Curtin, Madison

Don't judge fellow Catholics

To the editor:

In his keynote speech at the June 6 convention of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, Bishop Morneau of the Green Bay Diocese shared these words from James Bacik about Fr. Karl Rahner's understanding of the human person:

"In all his aspects of our lives, we experience both the power of divine grace and the threat of sin and guilt. In our better moments, we hear a call to develop our potential, to deepen our relationships, and to serve the common good. As Christians we believe that God calls us to put on the mind of Christ and to be more responsive to the promptings of the Spirit."

Not long afterwards I read about people applauding the judgmental remarks of a diocesan seminarian in his speech during his university commencement exercises [see June 15, 2006 editorial and June 22, 2006 letter to the editor]. It does not seem to me that applauding remarks that judge the behavior of fellow Catholics can do much to deepen our relationships and serve the common good. Nor do I think it is among the fruits of the Spirit.

Carolyn Heidemann, Lake Mills

Courts jeopardize safety

To the editor:

The church's teachings on capital punishment are outlined in paragraphs 2265-67 of the Catechism. These paragraphs describe a situation, unfortunately, that does not now pertain to the U.S. court system. The judiciary, to put it as charitably as I can, appear to have assumed the role, in too many cases, of advocates for the ACLU, which is pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-criminal, and anti-God.

How can we assume that courts will not take violent career criminals off death row and then put them on furlough where they are free to do rape, mayhem, and murder? We know that the Supreme Court couldn't stop the judicial murder of Terri Schiavo; how can we assume the courts will act to "preserve the common good of society"?

Any discussion about or bills concerning the elimination of the death penalty should and must also address the questions of abortion and euthanasia. To be clear, I'm a very pro-life Catholic who thinks that the innocent should be freed, that violent career criminals should stay in jail, and that punishment can be medicinal if the sacraments are liberally offered to prisoners. They call it a penitent-iary for a reason.

Mark Kimble, Madison

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