Blessed are the peacemakers

Categories: Editorial

You c an be one of them by supporting Catholic organizations aiding war victims

By Joe Towalski

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus told his disciples, “for they will be called children of God.”

Peacemakers are sorely needed in many parts of the world right now. Each day brings new stories about the ongoing violence in the Middle East. More than 1,200 Palestinians have been killed in the most recent round of fighting in Gaza, while many more have lost homes and access to the basic necessities of life. Meanwhile, rocket attacks continue to threaten Israeli civilians.

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CNS photo / Mohammed Saber, EPA

In Iraq, tens of thousands of Christians have been forced to leave their homes in Mosul and the surrounding area with little more than the clothes on their backs following the incursion of Islamic militants, who threaten other minorities and other parts of the Middle East as well.

In South Sudan and the Central African Republic, ongoing conflicts have killed thousands and forced millions to flee their homes. Fighting still rages in eastern Ukraine.

Pope Francis summed up the sad situation recently in a passionate plea for peace on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. “Never war! Never war!” he said. “I think most of all about children, whose hopes for a dignified life, a future are dashed, dead children, wounded children, mutilated children, orphans, children who have the leftovers of war for toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Stop it, please! I beg you with all my heart! It’s time to stop!”

It is time to stop. But, half a world away, as we read about the destruction and see the images of the misery and sadness such conflicts cause, it’s difficult to know what we can do to help bring about peace.

There are, however, a few important things we can do.

We can start with prayer. “We should never underestimate the power of prayer; for it touches and opens us to the power of God among us,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a recent letter to his brother bishops about the conflicts.

We can also support organizations that are on the ground in the world’s trouble spots, working to bring hope and humanitarian relief to those in need. Catholic Relief Services has been distributing hygiene kits, kitchen sets and other essential supplies to families in Gaza whose homes have been destroyed. It is providing medical supplies to hospitals and clinics.

CRS also is working with vulnerable populations in other parts of the Middle East, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The Catholic Near East Welfare Association is working with local church representatives to assist Iraqi Christians who have fled their homes.

Concerned Catholics can also press their congressional representatives and the Obama administration to provide humanitarian assistance and further diplomatic efforts in these conflict-ridden areas.

Blessed, indeed, are the peacemakers. For the children of God today are in desperate need of them.


How to help 

• Catholic Relief Services: Donate online at crs.org, by phone 877-435-7277, or by mail to Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090. 

• Catholic Near East Welfare Association: Give online at www.cnewa.org, by phone at 800-442-6392, or by mail to CNEWA, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022-4195.