Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Statement of the USCCB on Pursuing Political Solution in Syria

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

I would like to share with you the following press release that was issued today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on pursuing a peaceful political solution in Syria instead of a military intervention.

CARDINAL DOLAN, BISHOP PATES URGE CONGRESS TO PURSUE POLITICAL SOLUTION IN SYRIA, NOT MILITARY OPTION

Bishops make appeal same day Pope Francis urges G20 nations to pursue peace
Affirm Congressional finding that only negotiated political settlement will work
Assure Congress of their prayers

WASHINGTON—On the same day that Pope Francis asked the G20 nations to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” in Syria, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote to every member of Congress, urging them not to resort to military intervention, but instead work to end the violence in Syria through a political solution.

In their September 5 letter, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates affirmed the finding of a proposed Congressional resolution that acknowledges that “the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement,” and questioned military intervention. The bishops also condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, declaring these “indiscriminate weapons have no place in the arsenals of the family of nations.” They noted that more than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives, more than 2 million have fled the country as refugees, and more than 4 million within Syria have been driven from their homes by the ongoing conflict.

“Our focus is on the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria and on saving lives by ending the conflict, not fueling it,” the bishops wrote. They echoed the appeals of Pope Francis and bishops in the Middle East who “have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences.”

“We ask the United States to work urgently and tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities,” they wrote. The bishops also assured Congress of their prayers in the midst of this complex situation.

Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates wrote to President Obama September 4, also urging a political solution in Syria.

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God Bless and Guide Us

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

A lot going on as we get back to routine after what I trust was a good summer, as we re-open school and so many parish programs, and as we wish our Jewish neighbors the happiest of their holy days.

Three things I especially wanted to mention to you:

For one, we’re all worried about the perilous situation in Syria and the entire tortured region of the Middle East.

You may have heard that on Sunday, at his noon Angelus address and blessing to the tens-of-thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis firmly and soundly condemned the use of gas and chemical warfare, recently and brutally unleashed in Syria, but also cautioned against any escalation in force or weaponry that would only exacerbate the already volatile situation.

When we believers are frustrated, impatient, and “don’t know what to do,” – - and we are “all of the above” when it comes to the continued turmoil in the ancient lands of the Mideast – - we pray.  That’s what the Holy Father has asked us all to do this weekend.

Our prayers are with our President and Congress as they consider the appropriate American response.  Lord knows, as the world’s major power, we do indeed have a duty to remind the nations, cogently if necessary, that certain lines of civil and inhumane behavior cannot be tolerated in the community of nations.

Of the many sane and compelling voices heard on this horror, you will not be surprised that I pay special attention to those of religious leaders, particularly the weary and anxious, yet brave pleas of the tiny, persecuted, bloodied, threatened, venerable Christian communities in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.  They are there, right in the midst of it, poisoned by the gas, singed by the flames, shredded by the bombs, wounded by the guns.  Just what to do they humbly admit they do not exactly know; but they sure are united on what not to do:  please, they beg, no more bombs, no more arms, no more invasions, no more violent reaction.  They deserve to be heard!

The Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, will offer the 5:30 p.m. Mass Saturday evening at the cathedral for this intention.  In response to the request of Pope Francis, I wish all our Catholic people to abstain from meat this Friday, and  add this intention to their prayers at Sunday Mass.

Two, while we will indeed heed the Holy Father’s invitation to keep this Sabbath as a World Day of Prayer  for peace in the Middle East, we’ll also keep our plans to pray as well for fair and comprehensive immigration reform.   Our senate has already passed a good bill.  Perfect?  No.  A lot better than what we now have?  Yes!  And now we ask the Lord – - who has told us in the Bible that He has a soft spot in His heart for the immigrant and refugee – - to illuminate the House of Representatives so they can bring home the reform this autumn.

Three, we prepare for our vote in the mayoral primary next Tuesday.  We thank God for the generous spirit of our candidates in answering the call to public service, and we study the pressing issues so we can make an informed and enlightened vote.

Traditionally, we Americans consider not only issues, but character  when we vote.  While we hardly expect our candidates to be angels – - Lord knows none of us are! – - we do want them to be men and women of honor, integrity, principle, and, yes, virtue.

We Americans follow the political philosophy of thinkers such as Aristotle and Plato, mirrored in our own historically revered public servants, that politics is a noble vocation, that those who aspire to office can be expected to set a good example, to keep their word, their promises, their vows and oaths, and comport themselves with decency and propriety.  Yes, they do fail – - as do we religious leaders on occasion, I’m afraid – - but we still keep trying.

Recently, a mom asked “Who can our kids look up to?  Hollywood, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, clergy, and politicians are no longer good examples we can hold up for our children.”

That’s worrisome, isn’t it?  Jesus told His followers – - that’s us! – - that “I expect more out of you.”  Our guide is not what’s chic, pragmatic, “cool,” or popular, but what’s good, honorable, noble, decent, and virtuous.

The cynics claim “We deserve the leaders we get.”  Is it still possible to hope we get leaders whom we can hold up as examples for our children?

God bless and inspire our candidates!

God bless and guide us as we vote!       

Mass For Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

This morning, I offered a special mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for Greek Orthodox Bishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Bishop John Ibrahim, who were recently kidnapped in Syria. Here is the audio of the opening remarks that I made. I would also like to share with you the audio clip of my homily.