By Paul Dobbyn
THE violent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Gaza and the Ukraine are even more troubling as the world commemorates the centenary of the First World War and Hiroshima Day, Catholic Religious Australia president Mercy Sister Berneice Loch said.
“All these events point to the failure of diplomatic efforts to bring peace,” she said.
“There will be no solution through war and it is distressing that current efforts to broker peace are met with great resistance.
“We at CRA join others in prayer vigils for peace across the country,” she said.
“Nothing justifies the death of so many innocent people who are simply trying to find safety for themselves and their families in these war-torn areas.”
Sr Loch’s words were echoed by Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission executive officer Peter Arndt.
“Prayer is always our first action when we are confronted with these truly horrifying events in our world,” he said.
“Pope Francis emphasised the importance of prayer earlier this year when he prayed for peace with the Palestinian and Israeli presidents in Rome.
“We must keep praying for an end to the violence and human suffering in Iraq, Gaza, Syria and the Ukraine and we must continue to encourage all sides to engage in dialogue so that all can live in peace.”
Sr Loch and Mr Arndt’s comments came as prayer vigils for peace were held in Brisbane archdiocese at the St Joseph and St Anthony Church, Bracken Ridge, Brisbane and at St Mary’s Church, South Brisbane.
Bracken Ridge parish priest Fr Gerry Hefferan also encouraged other parishes in the Brisbane archdiocese and beyond to join its Pray@8 prayer campaign for the people of Iraq and other troubled areas.
The aim is for people to stop at 8pm each night in their own homes to be united in prayer.
New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have also recently sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to declare a global prayer vigil for peace in Gaza and the rest of the Holy Land.
The bishops mention this request as initially coming from a Gaza priest, Fr Raed, for the Pope to convene a vigil of prayer and fasting for the Holy Land, as he previously did for Syria.
The NZ bishops also acknowledge the Pope’s efforts to bring the leaders of both the Israeli and Palestinian people together for prayer, and his ongoing plea for an end to violence and for peaceful solutions.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Denis Hart said the bishops offered “our constant prayers for the innocent victims of the current conflicts and for an end to the continuing loss of life.”
“The Australian Catholic Bishops support Our Holy Father Pope Francis’ call for peace between Israel and Palestine,” he said.
“The Australian Catholic Bishops also support the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, and the International Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need, who appealed for people to join in a global ‘Day of Prayer for Peace’ on the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6.”
On Tuesday, it was reported that Israel and Palestinian groups had agreed to an Egyptian proposal for a new three-day ceasefire in Gaza to start that day.
This followed resumption of hostilities after a seven-hour humanitarian pause in some parts of Gaza the previous day.