Bishops ‘sent clear message’ on war
Karrar Hussein, 11, is tended by his mother at their home in Baghdad after he was injured on the feet and chest while playing with a mortar shell. Unexploded shells and abandoned weaponry are taking a tragic toll on Iraqi children Photo from Reuters
The solidarity of the Australian bishops with Pope John Paul II’s efforts to avoid conflict in Iraq has given a clear message of the Church’s concern for the human dimension in war, according to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Francesco Canalini.
He told the bishops in the opening session of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference plenary meeting in Sydney: “Our present meeting is overshadowed by the recent war in Iraq and its tragic consequences - deaths, injuries, widows, orphans, destroyed families, prolonged deprivation of the basic necessities of life, along with fear, uncertainty and anxiety - all elements deeply affecting the survivors,” he said.
At the heart of the Pope’s efforts to avoid war was his teaching that peace rested on the conversion of hearts and conscience and on the persuasion that peace was a gift of God, although requiring human co-operation, he said.
“The Holy Father was supported in his efforts by the solidarity of bishops, in Australia and in many other parts of the world, giving a clear message of the priority the Church attaches to the human dimension and the support she maintains for the resolution of controversies through negotiation and peaceful means,” he said.
“It becomes clear that, if the preservation of peace is undoubtedly a special task of governments, it is also a commitment and mission for each individual person.”
Archbishop Canalini spoke of the importance of continuing dialogue with Muslims, recognising the Pope’s deep determination to avoid a “clash of civilisations”.
He also referred to the recent Vatican document on New Age spirituality, acknowledging the attractiveness of such ideology to many in society, but stressing that it was “in radical contrast with Christian faith”.
“In this context, it appears necessary for the Church to endeavour to enlighten the faithful and strengthen their faith and life of prayer,” he said.
“In practice, it seems important to ensure that liturgical celebrations reflect and transmit a vibrant spirituality ... centred in the experience of God as Trinity and the following of Christ.”