The Holy Father shouts for peace in Iraq

At the end of Holy Mass of Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, at noon, His Holiness delivered him Angelus message.  This week it included a very strong appeal for peace in Iraq, following on the death of the Archbishop of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Paulos Farah Rahho.

Here is the section of his comments on Iraq.  My emphases indicates the part he quite literally shouted, though they were part of the prepared text:

At the end of this solemn celebration, in which we have meditated on the Passion of Christ, I want to call to mind the late lamented Archbishop of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Paulos Farah Rahho, tragically deceased a few days ago.  His beautiful witness of faith in Christ, the Church and his people, which despite many threats he never wanted to abandon, presses me to raise a strong and concerned cry: enough of these massacres, enough with the violence, enough with hatred in Iraq!  And I raise at the same time an appeal to the people of Iraq, which for five years is bearing the consequenzes of a war which has provoked the upheaval of civil and social life: beloved Iraqi people, raise up your heads and let you be, in the first place, riconstructors of your national life.  Let there be reconciliations, forgiveness, justice and respect in common life betweem tribes, ethnic and religious groups, the solid way of peace in the name of God.

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  1. Totally agreed, enough with this violence in the name of God. Peace only comes through Christ Jesus, the sooner they realize it (the terrorists), the sooner peace will be in Iraq

  2. TJM says:

    As soon as the people of Iraq abandon the religion of “peace” and adopt the loving message of Jesus Christ, then there will be peace in Iraq. Until then, it will be more of the same old, same old. Tom

  3. Can we not also raise the same hope for conversion in wealthy Western countries?

    I think that, for the time being, I would be happy if the people of Iraq (et alibi) just considered their children and themselves and used reason in the ordering of society.

  4. Daniel H. Conway says:

    “Yup its the terrorists fault.”

    Great postings. Always the others’ fault. Wouldn’t have anything to do with an unjust war. Nope, just those terrorists, “because they hate our freedom” (must be pronounced with a Texan drawal).

    The consequences of the sinful acts of states (the US in particular, but not exclusively) and its leaders is laid bare for the world to see.

  5. Daniel: “Sinful acts of states”….

    Well… I think that is way beyond the competence of any of us to judge.

  6. elmwood says:

    i’m confused; jpii and b16 were strongly opposed to the war. a romanian catholic bishop condemned his faithful for participation in the iraqi invasion. this latest comment by the pope says that his death is the result of the war–very negative.

    fr. zuhlsdorf, what is a faithful catholic to do about the war? to say it was just and the popes and church were wrong is pretty arrogant.

    i suppose the occupation is just because we are trying to fix the mess we made.

  7. Geoffrey says:

    The USA-led invasion of Iraq did not meet the “Just War Doctrine” of the Church and was stated as such by both John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI. However, there is now quite a mess that needs to be cleaned up, which I would assume is the moral responsibility of the USA, so they can’t just leave like many want them to. Quite a mess.

    Beata Maria, Regina Pacis, ora pro nobis!

  8. Way beyond our competence to judge that the Iraq war was sinful?

    Hmm, sounds like a beautiful cop-out.

    One person who did not feel it was beyond his competence to make that judgment was Cardinal Ratzinger.

    Asked if the Iraq war (the US invasion) could be morally justified he answered: “Of course not!”

  9. Consequences of a war that has provoked the upheaval of social and civil life, said the Poper.

    Consequence which he and his predecessor FORETOLD!

    See this from Don Franco:

    In Iraq, dove la minoranza cristiana era da tempo ben integrata con la popolazione locale, la guerra ha acceso una vera e propria caccia al cristiano.

    Un vescovo che, per quanto ne so, era amante del dialogo viene rapito e ucciso con violenza disumana.

    L’occupazione americana dell’Iraq ha facilitato una tragica identificazione: americani – occidentali – cristiani.

    Così anche questo fattore ha scatenato l’odio di cui in questi mesi stiamo raccogliendo i frutti.

    Finchè le truppe di occupazione resteranno in Iraq, la situazione presterà il fianco a questi atti di violenza assassina.

  10. Melody says:

    The thing that scares me most about the terrorists is that they seem to have no love for themselves. What kind of people would send their wives, and sons to blow themselves up amidst the enemy? How can a person value life without holding any value for his own life?

    These people care nothing for the country of Iraq. Many of the Al Quaeda insurgents are from other parts of the middle east and only care about advancing their fanatical ideals and harming the US.

    If one looks at a list of countries reconstructed by the US most if all are part of the 1st world. But the challenge is great when when the people we are fighting just see Iraq as a battleground. It should be noted that many Iraqi citizens welcomed the US troops with cheers and fanfare.

  11. Note that people who uncritically support or whitewash the sins of their governments are also in a sinful situation — as we are quick to point out in the case of Germany in 1933-1945.

    And note also that big sins breed a host of little sins. See this from today’s Independent:

    Mr Colburn was a member of a three-man helicopter crew that landed in My Lai to stop the killing. US troops, frustrated by their inability to find elusive Viet Cong, had opened fire on civilians. There had been no enemy fire, but 500 men, women and children were killed. Colburn and the anti-war veterans who travelled to Vietnam this weekend say they were distressed to see their comrades in Iraq repeat the error of dehumanising the people they were supposed to be liberating. Early on in the Iraq occupation, a US army officer was filmed by the BBC declaring after a roadside explosion, “this town’s gonna pay”. A mindset of overwhelming force, indifferent to civilian casualties, led as if on tramlines to torture to Abu Ghraib and the creation of an al-Qa’ida-inspired resistance to foreign troops.

  12. The newspaper is not afraid to name sin as sin, even pointing the finger at its own profession:

    So, among the guilty people that we would name as responsible for the disaster of Iraq, we would include journalists collectively, in Britain and America. In our assessment of the winners and losers from the war we include the media among the latter. Partly, this was because journalists and opponents of the war focused too much on the distraction and legal device of weapons of mass destruction, on which, before the war, little could be proved.

  13. elmwood: You might be able to shape your thought by reading Pope Benedict’s 2006 Message for the World Day of Peace, which I think is an extremely important document for understanding Benedict’s mind. 

    In the document Pope Benedict speaks of the necessary conditions for true peace. 

    You should read the whole thing, but here is a quote:

    8. Here I wish to express gratitude to the international organizations and to all those who are daily engaged in the application of international humanitarian law. Nor can I fail to mention the many soldiers engaged in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace. I wish to remind them of the words of the Second Vatican Council: ”All those who enter the military in service to their country should look upon themselves as guardians of the security and freedom of their fellow-countrymen, and, in carrying out this duty properly, they too contribute to the establishment of peace”. 

    It is important also to understand that Pope Benedict tries to describe what true peace is.  He uses the idea that not all “peaceful” times are really true peace, and that peace is not simply the absence of war.

  14. Thomas says:

    How exactly does a state “sin”?

    And O’Leary, you don’t have to post repeatedly in the same thread, lime-light seeking narcissist.

  15. How exactly does a State sin?

    1. Through its leaders (Stalin, Hitler) who use the entire apparatus of the
    State for their evil ends.

    2. Through the silence or consent of its citizens. Hence the notion of collective guilt.

  16. Thomas, back in March 2003 many apologists for the Iraq War ridiculed its critics and tried to shut them up, as you are still doing.

    Those vehement supporters of the War mostly disappeared into the woodwork, never acknowledging their foolish mistake or their contribution to the senseless loss of Iraqi and American lives.

  17. Thomas says:

    I don’t seem to recall stating my position on the war one way or the other here. I simply questioned your asinine statement about a state “sinning.” Do you suppose the statue of Lincoln in Washington can convert to the faith, travel to Rome, and confess to the statue of St. Peter? It seems that using your example, it’s Hitler and Stalin (individual souls) who have sinned, but that doesn’t go well with your more general hatred of America.

    As it is, I am far less bothered by your partisanship in politics, O’Leary, than your heresy in religion.

    I pray that God wounds your pride, and mortally so.

  18. Cole M says:

    If memory serves, there were some intelligent people who felt that the war in Iraq met the criteria for just war. His Holiness’ judgment as to whether the war in Iraq was just deserves the highest respect and consideration of every Catholic, but is not binding in the same way other pronouncements are (e.g. prohibition of contraception in Humanae Vitae). In hindsight he has been proven right, particularly on the question of quick resolution.

    However, I don’t think there is enough conclusive evidence to say that the U.S. government knowingly and willfully sinned in choosing to go to war in Iraq. I am willing to say that the U.S. has made a serious error and is liable for the consequences of that error, but I don’t know if the requisite will is present in the decision-makers to say that they sinned.

    Perhaps someone with a better knowledge of the relevant theology can clarify…

  19. Thomas, you are missing the important half of my answer about State sins.

    Bush’s acts were objectively sinful, to use that category; I am absolutely sure that John Paul II and Benedict XVI would agree with me on that.

    But the sinfulness of the citizens of the USA must also be considered.

    It was the great Mark Twain, I think, who first diagnosed and warned the world against hte danger of American Innocence.

    Americans always seem to say, “Aw, shucks” or “Who, me?” when their nation undermines liberties and causes death and destruction on a huge scale.

    For a nation that brandishes the Bible so much it seems to have little sense of the meaning of repentance.

    When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?…

  20. David O'Rourke says:

    The State is not a person and thus it cannot commit a sin. As for the leaders of a state, one can say that they were wrong and or foolish (I would say both) but we cannot say they committed a sin.

    However, we CAN say that what a state did was objectively a sinful act. Personlly I would say (and said from the start) that the Invasion of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain was an objectively sinful act

  21. Spirit: Sorry… I just won’t stand idly by and have my country bashed by you on my blog.

    I think you have twisted the Pope’s message to fit your own anti-American agenda.

    The Holy Father’s message was aimed at the Iraqi people. It was not aimed at the USA or other nations with troops on the ground in Iraq.

    The bottom line: clean up your own house, Iraqis, so that foreign troops are no long necessary. Stop killing yourselves.

    Popes are going to set themselves against all wars. However, Pope Benedict has made clear statements about the need for military intervention in order to establish the proper conditions for true peace.

    Finally, discussion of the Holy Father’s message is fine. And discussion must consider the roots of problems in Iraq. It is always perhaps useful to discuss the relationship of individual guilt for sin and collective guilt for collective actions. That is useful, I think. Certainly the point was raised recently at the course for confessors by the Sacra Penitenzieria Apostolica by Bp. Girotti – so distorted in press coverage.

    But bash the United States again in the way you did another time, and you will not post on this blog again.

  22. David: the Invasion of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain was an objectively sinful act

    Can you make an argument for this?

  23. Fr Zuhlsdorf, of course Benedict is primarily addressing Iraqis. But his view on the original badness of the Iraq War are very well known. Why would I wish to distort them?

    Here is one of Benedict’s utterances on the Iraq War of 2003:

    “There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a ‘just war’.”

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