A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘U.N.’

“Peacemaking is more courageous than warfare….” Pope Francis

Iraqi Children

A perspective from religious leaders to consider before President Obama’s address:

Dear President Obama:

As religious communities, leaders, and academics, we write to express our deep concern over the recent escalation of U.S. military action in Iraq. While the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should compel the international community to respond in some way, U.S. military action is not the answer. Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq. As difficult as it might be, in the face of this great challenge, we believe that the way to address the crisis is through long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy, nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation processes.

Pope Francis has affirmed that “peacemaking is more courageous than warfare,” and more recently said that “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop;’ I don’t say bomb, make war — stop him.” But how, we ask?

In addition to the complex factors spilling over from the civil war in Syria and pressure from other neighbors, decades of U.S. political and military intervention, coupled with inadequate social reconciliation programs, have significantly contributed to the current crisis in Iraq. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.

The current state of crisis and the breakdown of state institutions in Libya provide another stark example of the failure of a militarized strategy. Like Libya, the air strikes in Iraq will ultimately fail to build and maintain sustainable peace in the long-term.

We understand and deeply share the desire to protect people, especially civilians. However, even when tactics of violent force yield a short-term displacement of the adversary’s violence, such violence toward armed actors is often self-perpetuating, as the retributive violence that flares up in response will only propitiate more armed intervention in a tit-for-tat escalation without addressing the root causes of the conflict. We see this over and over again. It is not “necessary” to continue down this road of self-destruction, as Pope Francis called the hostilities of war the “suicide of humanity.”

There are better, more effective, more healthy and more humanizing ways to protect civilians and to engage this conflict. Using an alternative frame, here are some “just peace” ways the United States and others can not only help save lives in Iraq and the region, but also begin to transform the conflict and break the cycle of violent intervention. To begin, the United States should take the following steps:

  • Stop U.S. bombing in Iraq to prevent bloodshed, instability and the accumulation of grievances that contribute to the global justification for the Islamic State’s existence among its supporters.
  • Provide robust humanitarian assistance to those who are fleeing the violence. Provide food and much-needed supplies in coordination with the United Nations.
  • Engage with the UN, all Iraqi political and religious leaders, and others in the international community on diplomatic efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq. Ensure a significantly more inclusive Iraqi government along with substantive programs of social reconciliation to interrupt the flow and perhaps peel-back some of the persons joining the Islamic State. In the diplomatic strategy, particularly include those with influence on key actors in the Islamic State.
  • Work for a political settlement to the crisis in Syria. The conflicts in Iraq and Syria are intricately connected and should be addressed holistically. Return to the Geneva peace process for a negotiated settlement to the civil war in Syria and expand the agenda to include regional peace and stability. Ensure Iran’s full participation in the process.
  • Support community-based nonviolent resistance strategies to transform the conflict and meet the deeper need and grievances of all parties. For example, experts have suggested strategies such as parallel institutions, dispersed disruptions, and economic non-cooperation.
  • Strengthen financial sanctions against armed actors in the region by working through the UN Security Council. For example, disrupting the Islamic State’s $3 million/day oil revenue from the underground market would go a long way toward blunting violence.
  • Bring in and significantly invest in professionally trained unarmed civilian protection organizations to assist and offer some buffer for displaced persons and refugees, both for this conflict in collaboration with Iraqi’s and for future conflicts.
  • Call for and uphold an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict. U.S. arms and military assistance to the government forces and ethnic militias in Iraq, in addition to arming Syrian rebel groups, have only fueled the carnage, in part due to weapons intended for one group being taken and used by others. All armed parties have been accused of committing gross violations of human rights. Along with Russia, work with key regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to take independent initiatives and meaningful steps towards an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict.
  • Support Iraqi civil society efforts to build peace, reconciliation, and accountability at the community level. Deep sectarian and ethnic divisions have long been exacerbated by various factors, including the U.S. military intervention in 2003. Sustainable peace will require peace-building and reconciliation efforts from the ground up.

With hope, deep-felt prayers, and a splash of courage, we ask you to move us beyond the ways of war and into the frontier of just peace responses to violent conflict.


Susan T. Henry-Crowe, MDiv.DD
General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Janet Mock, CSJ
Executive Director
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Diane Randall
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Shan Cretin
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. James Moos
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Sandy Sorensen
Director, DC office
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Eli McCarthy, PhD
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network

Stanley J. Noffsinger, General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

Sr. Patricia Chappell
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Marie Dennis
Pax Christi International

Gerry G. Lee
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Scott Wright
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Rev. Michael Neuroth
Policy Advocate for International Issues
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Very Rev. Michael Duggan, MM
U.S. Regional Superior of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers

Very Rev. Carl Chudy, SX
Provincial Superior of Xaverian Missionaries in U.S.

Very Rev. Domenico Di Raimondo, M.Sp.S.
Provincial Superior of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Christ the Priest Province

Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

María Teresa Dávila, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Andover Newton Theological School

Bill Barbieri, PhD
Professor of Religion and Culture and Moral Theology/Ethics
Catholic University

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary

Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC
Ethics Professor
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Laurie Johnston, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
Emmanuel College

Rev. Priscilla Eppinger, PhD
Associate Professor of Religion
Graceland University/Community of Christ Seminary

Peter Phan, PhD
Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought
Georgetown University

Fr. Ray Kemp, S.T.L.
Theology Professor
Georgetown University

Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Parkman Professor of Divinity
Director, The Center for the Study of World Religions
Harvard University

Betty Reardon, PhD
Founding Director Emeritus
International Institute on Peace Education

Maureen O’Connell, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of Department of Religion
LaSalle University

Amir Hussain, PhD
Professor of Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University

Kathleen Maas Weigert, PhD
Carolyn Farrell, BVM Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University Chicago

David Cortright, PhD
Director of Policy Studies
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
Notre Dame University

Margaret Pfeil, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology/Ethics
Notre Dame University

John Berkman, PhD
Professor of Moral Theology
Regis College, University of Toronto

Gerald W. Schlabach
Professor of Theology
University of St. Thomas

John Sniegocki, PhD
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Director, Peace Studies Minor
Xavier University

Kathryn Getek Soltis, PhD
Director, Center for Peace and Justice Education
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University

Suzanne C. Toton, EdD
Theology and Religious Studies Department
Villanova University

Rev. Louis Arceneaux, CM
Promoter of Peace and Justice
Western Province, Congregation of the Mission, USA

Fr. Robert Bossie, SCJ
Priests of the Sacred Heart
Chicago, IL

Fr. John A. Coleman, SJ
Saint Ignatius Parish
San Francisco, CA

Fr. John Converset, MCCJ
Director, Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
North American Province of Comboni Missionaries

Doreen Glynn, CSJ
Justice Coordinator
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province

Bro. Michael Gosch, CSV
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Director
Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

Jude A. Huntz, Director
Office for Peace and Justice
Archdiocese of Chicago

Bro. Brian McLauchlin, SVD
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Promoter

Bro. Frank O’Donnell, SM

Brian Reavey

Bro. Jerry Sullivan, SM

Rev. Dr. Peter A. Wells
Justice LED Organizer
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Bro. Stan Zubek, SM


  • Secretary of State John Kerry
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
  • Department of State, Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall
  • USAID, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg
  • Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Shaun Casey
  • Special Assistant to the President for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers

“Shalom is the flower that blooms…”

“Shalom is the flower that blooms only on the tree of justice, planted near the waters of abundance, warmed by the light of truth and faithfulness.” Anthony Prete

Dear All – I will be short as I think the article shared below by Bill Quigley says a lot. Bill is a human rights lawyer who has flown over to Egypt to try and enter into Gaza to be a human rights presence as the war against the Palestinian people rages onward. Bill writes about doctors being blocked form entering into Gaza to help the estimated 3,000 wounded.

We have heard that Israel has the “right” to protect herself, this may be true, but how does protection necessitate blocking food, water, and medical care to injured civilians?

As the world audience seeing these brief news clip everyday we are called to be ethical witnesses, to move toward a space of creative action that upholds the right of all people to be protected, calls on state structures to engage diplomacy, and international structures like the U.N. to mediate.  I encourage each of us to consider one small action we might take toward being in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Prayer, vigils, calling our Representatives, a peace sign in the window all of these small acts build toward creating the “bloom of Shalom” that Anthony Prete invokes…Much Peace Liz


January 10, 2009
 Report from Rafah: Doctors Stopped At Borders
 by Bill Quigley

Dr. Nicolas Doussis-Rassias and many other volunteer doctors have been
 waiting in Rafah, Egypt for days.  Nicolas and the other physicians
 came to Rafah to go through the border into Gaza to help the 3000
 people wounded by Israeli bombs and heavy weapons.

 Rafah is a heavily armed Egyptian border crossing into Gaza, a four
 hour drive away from Cairo.  Sonic booms of high flying jets cut
 through the stark blue sky.  Military drones hover over the border as
 the air smells of burning.

 “Three thousand victims of bombs and gunfire would overwhelm the
 medical system of New York city,” Nicolas said.  “Gaza now has no
functioning medical system at all.  Most of it has no electricity nor
 running water.  These people are in crisis – they need medical help,
 so we are here to help them.”

 But today, instead of helping the thousands of wounded, Nicolas and
 other doctors are holding up a hand lettered red and blue banner
 outside the Egyptian border station saying – Let the Doctors Through!

 Why?  Doctors of Peace and numerous other doctors from around the
 world have been prevented from entering Gaza for seven days. They
 cannot get in to help through Israel nor Egypt.

 Nicolas is not an anti-Israeli radical.  He is a jolly 49 year old
 Athens doctor. Father of two children, he is the president of a
 organization of volunteer Greek physicians called Doctors of Peace.
 These doctors pay their own way and volunteer to help the victims of
 war and natural disasters. They have helped out in Latin America with
 victims of Hurricane Mitch, in Sri Lanka with tsunami victims, and the
 victims of wars in Lebanon, Serbia, Turkey, and Pakistan.

 But the borders of Gaza are sealed off preventing basic humanitarian
 and medical assistance from entering.

 Richard Falk, the UN Special Reporter on Human Rights in the Occupied
 Territories, pointed out the human rights violations of the sealed
 border:  “Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of
 entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe
 shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the
 inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of
 hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for
 the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other
 medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.”

 The people of Gaza have been cutoff from basic medical and
 humanitarian resources for a long time by an ongoing blockade by
 Israel, but everything is much worse in the last few weeks.

 Falk, like many others, also condemned the rocket attacks launched
 from Gaza against Israel. More than a dozen Israelis have died since
 the war began, as have more than 800 Gazans.  But Falk’s harshest
 words were reserved for the catastrophic human toll from the Israeli
 air strikes and “those counties that have been and remain complicit,
 either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international

 Frida Berrigan pointed out that “During the Bush administration Israel
 has received over $21 billion in U.S. security assistance, including
 $19 billion in direct military aid. The bulk of Israel’s current
 arsenal is composed of equipment supplied under U.S. assistance
 programs. For example, Israel has 226 U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter and
 attack jets, over 700 M-60 tanks, 6,000 armored personnel carriers,
 and scores of transport planes, attack helicopters, utility and
 training aircraft, bombs, and tactical missiles of all kinds.”

 Palestinian medical officials say more than half of the 800 dead and
 3000 wounded are civilians. Denial of humanitarian and medical
 assistance to civilian casualties is a clear violation of basic human

 The people of Egypt are challenging the denial of medical help for
 Gaza.  Halfway through our drive from Cairo to Rafah, we saw a hundred
 young Egyptians sitting in the middle of the highway protesting
 Egypt’s inactions.

 After seven days, the border is starting to open a little.  The
 Egyptian Red Crescent was allowed to deliver supplies to the border
 today and some of the waiting doctors were allowed in. With great
 show, two dozen Egyptian ambulances were allowed to enter the border
 area – only to be parked inside to wait for the injured to make it to
 the border.  Two ambulances left Rafah with patients inside.

 Doctors of Peace were still not allowed in today.  Some physicians,
 tired from the seven day blockade, have started to return home.

 Nicolas is going back to the Rafah border crossing tomorrow to try
 again.  Why?  “Because there are 3000 injured people who need help. I
 am going to keep trying.”

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