Pope Francis: Syria! Peace!

syria+peace.fullPope Francis rose up in all his moral grandeur on Sunday to make a global appeal for peace in Syria–calling Sept. 7 as a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the Middle East. (You can send a note to Congress urging nonviolent action in Syria.)

The Catholic Church has very strong teachings against war. The U.S. bishops have not yet called on Catholic soldiers not to fight – but only because they are afraid of the chaos it would cause, not because it’s inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Catholics are not permitted to participate in pre-emptive war or any war that does not meet just war principles (which attacks on Syria do not).

As Americans, the question we face is not whether we condone chemical weapons use — of course we do not. The question is how should the international community responds when someone commits a war crime (ie uses chemical weapons).

The pope invites all people of good will to set aside a day for prayer, meditation, and fasting — or any discipline that leads one deeper into an experience of personal peace and peace for the world. Below is Pope Francis’ appeal:

“Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children who will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgement of God and of history upon our actions which is inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

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First Friday of Lent: Is Alligator a Fish?

As a Catholic with a Louisiana-Catholic grandmother, I could not resist posting this letter from the Archbishop of New Orleans from a few Lents back. If you want to read the hilarious comments from when it was first posted (and you aren’t afraid of The American Conservative), then check them out.

My favorites?
For the Monty Python fan:

“Now given that witches are made of wood and thus float, does that mean that alligators, being a species of fish and thus also float are witches? Or does it mean that alligators are made of wood?”

For the Byzantine:

“I’ve heard that both Catholic and Orthodox Lenten Fast laws classify beaver meat as a kind of fish, not that I’d every take advantage of that loophole.”

For the Bible geek:

“While I’m in total agreement with you concerning Abp Aymond’s apostolic authority, please remember that ancient Hebrew had no word for reptile. Ergo, just as the Hebrew words “brother” and “sister” actually mean cousin, auntie, BFF, and old lady from down the street when referring to the family of the Lord; in the same way “fish” in Hebrew actually refers not only to alligator, nutria, and capybara, but to crocodile, cayman, eel, and platypus as well.

As an alternative exegesis of John 21, it is entirely possible that the apostles were grilling alligator with a bit of platypus by the shore of Genesseret, but our Lord thought it was icky and changed it into tilapia when they weren’t looking.”

Seriously, this is one of the best comment threads I’ve come across in a long time. There’s even a Lenten recipe for bayou delicacy nutria. (Don’t even ask ….)