BY ISN STAFF | June 18, 2014
Note: To include information about the USCCB statement on Iraq this post was updated on 6/19/14
National Catholic organizations are joining Pope Francis in calling for prayers of peace in the midst of increasing violence in Iraq.
Following the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday (June 15, 2014), Pope Francis invited the crowd to join him in prayer for “the dear Iraqi nation, above all for the victims and for those who are suffering the consequences of the growing violence, most especially the many people, including many Christians, who had to leave their homes.” Later he said that he hoped the entire Middle Eastern nation could enjoy “security, peace and a future of reconciliation and justice, where all Iraqis, whatever their religion, could build their nation together, creating a model of coexistence.” [Catholic Herland UK]
Military Intervention Will Not Achieve Peace
On Tuesday Pax Christi USA (PCUSA) released a statement on Iraq unequivocally stating that “U.S. military intervention will not achieve the peace and stability that the people of Iraq deserve.” The statement identified the current crisis as “direct, if unintended consequence” of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and called for “a fully inclusive international diplomatic process to address this crisis.”
PCUSA is also inviting people to advocate against U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria. Noting that U.S. military intervention will lead to more suffering for the people of Iraq and the possibility of a wider conflict in the region, they are inviting their members to call on Congress to seek diplomatic solutions rather than military force.
Prayer Has the Power to Change
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) also released a statement calling upon people of all religious denominations across the globe join the Iraqi Sisters in a moment of prayer on Thursday, June 19 at 6 PM (your local time) to pray for an end to the violence and the protection of minority Christians in Iraq.
“We believe that prayer has the power to change the course of events in Iraq,” said LCWR president Sister Carol Zinn, S.S.J. “We stand with our sisters and brothers who courageously remain with the people they serve and will join with them in prayer for as long and as often as it takes until the violence ceases.”
Special Responsibility to the People of Iraq
“Our nation bears a special responsibility toward the people of Iraq.” said Bishop Richard E. Pates, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, in a letter to Ambassador Susan E. Rice, National Security Adviser, on June 19. He continued, “The U.S.-led invasion and occupation unleashed both sectarian conflicts and extremism in Iraq, two tragic unintended consequences that have profound and continuing repercussions for the people of Iraq.” The letter also called on Ambassador Rice to utilize “U.S. humanitarian assistance for the victims of the conflict” and “diplomatic measures” in response to the Iraq crisis.