A voice for peace: Let’s join the Holy Father in praying for peace Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011 -- 12:00 AM
A voice for peace

One voice crying for peace is Pope Benedict XVI. He has appealed for a suspension of fighting in Libya and the immediate start of a serious dialogue aimed at restoring peace to the North African country, reported a Catholic News Service article.

Speaking at his weekly blessing March 27, the pope said he was increasingly concerned about the situation in Libya, where rebels supported by U.S. and European airstrikes have battled the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

“My fear for the safety and well-being of the civilian population is growing, as is my apprehension over how the situation is developing with the use of arms,” the pope said. “To international agencies and to those with political and military responsibility, I make a heartfelt appeal for the immediate start of a dialogue that will suspend the use of arms.”

The pope said that in moments of great international tension, there was more urgency for diplomatic efforts that take advantage of “even the weakest sign of openness to reconciliation” among the parties in conflict. Solutions should be “peaceful and lasting,” he said.

The pope offered a prayer for “the return of harmony in Libya” and throughout North Africa.

Concern about Middle East

He also expressed concern about the entire region of the Middle East, where episodes of violence and civil unrest were taking place daily. In Syria, more than 50 people were reported killed in anti-government demonstrations in late March.

“My thoughts go to the authorities and citizens of the Middle East. .  .  . There, too, the path of dialogue and reconciliation should be chosen for a just and brotherly coexistence,” he said.

The Vatican planned to send an observer to the international conference on Libya scheduled for March 29 in London. He said Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, would represent the Vatican at the one-day meeting, which was convened to assess the Libyan intervention.

U.S. bishops urge caution

A U.S. bishop urged the Obama administration to stay focused on a limited goal in Libya and on the well-being of the civilian population.

In a letter to National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged a careful use of force in Libya balanced with the aim of protecting the civilian population and consideration of whether the use of force is “proportionate to the goal of protecting civilians.”

The letter was dated March 24 and made public the following day, reported Catholic News Service.

The bishop said the purpose articulated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to demand “a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians” appears to meet the traditional criterion of “just cause,” but said the U.S. bishops joined Pope Benedict XVI in following the military action with “great apprehension.”

As we follow the events in Libya and throughout the world, let us join with our Holy Father and bishops in praying for peaceful solutions to these conflicts and urging the United States government to exercise caution and prudence in our involvement in any conflicts.