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11-SEPARATION-WALL

The only way forward: being true channels of peace

This week’s editorial leader

What a damaged and distressing world we live in when a senior Catholic patriarch’s willingness to give up his life for peace is not only understood but commended. In the literal sense, Syrian Patriarch Gregorius III was this week expressing to Scottish Catholics his willingness to go back to Syria and work at reconciliation in spite of the violence and religious persecution there. On another level, he was dedicating his life to the peace process in his own country and in the wider Middle Eastern region during Aid to the Church in Need’s launch of its latest Persecuted and Forgotten? report. This report reveals that over the past two years, the persecution of Christians has worsened in 20 nations.

SCO editor Liz Leydon, who has just returned from pilgrimage to the Holy Land, reports this week on being deeply moved by the experience—on both religious and humanitarians levels. To see people of different faiths and ethnicities divided in what should be a truly spiritually unifying part of the world is heart-breaking if not soul-destroying. Politics aside, to see Christians and Muslims on the other side of walls from their Jewish ‘older brothers,’ as Archbishop Philip Tartaglia put it, is tragic.

Jesus brought Christians ‘a new Passover’ in the Eucharist but we share a common heritage with the Jewish community, and Marian and other ties with the Islamic community.

Last week, Pope Francis greeted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Rome with Bethlehem’s first female mayor Vera Baboun, who Scottish pilgrims met this month, in the Holy Land, and presented gifts including a pen that the president said he hoped ‘to sign the peace agreement with Israel with.’

Confusion over a possible meeting in Rome on Wednesday between the Holy Father and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must not be allowed to cloud or delay in anyway the reinstatement of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

While the Middle East may seem far away from our own daily lives and problems, we must pray for our persecuted and troubled brothers and sisters, support them in any way we can through aid and raising awareness, and let them know we stand with them for peace.

We have just marked Mission Sunday in many Scottish parishes to support the work of the Church in the developing world. If only we could let peace be part of our mission from now on as a community, supporting peace efforts by our Universal Church and making peace the building blocks of our own family and professional lives.

 

 

 

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