March 4, 2022

Editorial

Christ is the way to peace

“Enmity with God is the source of all that poisons man. Overcoming this enmity is the basic condition for peace in the world.” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)

We Catholics begin each year with an appeal to Mary, Queen of Peace, to watch over us and guide us on the way to peace. One of the prayers given to us by the Church for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on the first day of the new calendar year, expresses our hope in this way: “The virgin conceived and bore your Son who is called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace. May Christ’s peace reign in our hearts, now and forever. Amen.”

We believe that true and lasting peace comes only through the Son of God, who was sent into the world by his Father to be the ultimate peacemaker.

Only two months into this new year, peace was shattered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Shortly before the invasion began, Pope Francis appealed for peace:

“I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.”

The pope also invited all people of goodwill to join him in a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Ash Wednesday, March 2. People throughout the world responded, and their prayers were lifted up to heaven with great urgency.

Pope Francis did not simply “call for peace.” He later made an unannounced and unprecedented personal visit to Russia’s ambassador to the Holy See to express his concerns. Afterward, he said:

“Once again, the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies.”

The Holy Father has consistently urged us to “build bridges, not walls,” and to recognize that the Earth belongs to all the children of God, but especially to those who are meek and humble of heart. The rich and the powerful may attempt to control the land by any means at their disposal, including warfare and genocide, but, in the end, they will be unsuccessful.

The Quakers have a saying, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” Catholic teaching supports this insight—provided we understand that it is the Pax Christi, the Peace of Christ, that is “the way” to achieve lasting peace in our hearts and in our world. We seek this way of peace through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and our mother.

When Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement on Ukraine, he said: “I echo the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting to end the war in Ukraine. In times of trouble, we call on the tender mercy of God … to guide our feet to the way of peace [Lk 1:78-79]. May our prayers, joined with those of people around the world, help guide those waging war to end the meaningless suffering and restore peace. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9). We become children of God when we are reconciled to him—through our baptism and our communion with him in and through the Church. But when we lose sight of God, through our blindness, selfishness and sin, peace disintegrates and violence proliferates to a formerly unimaginable degree of cruelty.

As Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical  “Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship,” “Every war leaves our world worse than it was before. War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stinging defeat before the forces of evil” (#261).

We Christians believe that true peace comes only through Jesus Christ, who was sent into the world by his Father to be the Prince of Peace. We readily join our hands and hearts with people of diverse faiths and political points of view to seek peace by whatever nonviolent means are available to us.

“My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine,” Pope Francis said. There is only one way to peace. Christ is the way. May we follow him always.

—Daniel Conway

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