My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I know that so many of you in our parishes, in our communities, and in other Catholic institutions, are discussing the terrible oppression and religious persecution in the Middle East where Christians are beheaded for the mere fact of being Christian. And unfortunately, there are other innocent religious minorities in the Middle East who are suffering a similar fate at the hands of these extremists as well.
While we all know that resolving these problems through a military response is not the only resolution to these situations, it is morally licit for people of good will to use “proportionate and discriminate force” to stop these unjust aggressors and to protect religious minorities and civilians within the framework of universal and humanitarian law.
We also know that the IS, so called Islamic State, is using political exclusion and economic desperation to manipulate the situation to their advantage; hence the beginning of an Islamic state to be subject to their laws and their machinations.
I know that national organizations like Catholic Relief Services are struggling to pay displaced persons and we applaud their many efforts of humanitarian and developmental assistance. We, as a church, need to focus intently on strengthening these efforts of assistance. I am aware that the church, in our country, is currently striving to do so even now as you read this column.
This may even mean that we need to accept the need for resettlement of the most vulnerable people where return to their homeland is impossible because of these very destructive and negative forces.
My column to you this week is merely a summary of a letter that has been developed and sent to the president of the United States and to Congress from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of the Archdiocese of Louisville, who is the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Oscar Cantú, bishop of Las Cruces, N.M., who is the head of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.
My brothers and sisters, during this Lenten season, I ask that you please remember all those who have lost their lives at the hands of these barbaric ideologues and let us pray every day for peace in the Middle East and peace throughout the world. But most especially, let us pray for peace in these troubled spots of the earth where there is venomous hatred that is spreading throughout the world. Let us turn all of this over to our Lord and do our very best to promote peace in our own minds and hearts and pray for those who are falling victim to these terrible threats.