This past March, and in the subsequent months, we witnessed some incredible changes at the Vatican; the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis produced a wondrous torrent of exhilaration for the Catholic world and, indeed, for people of good will everywhere.
Throughout the months of Francis’ short papacy many people have been trying to figure him out. Clearly he is different from Blessed John Paul II and from Benedict XVI. I believe, however, that many people who were anticipating a retreat from courage in the actions of this Pope with the world at large, have certainly found that nothing could be further from the truth.
He rises as his saintly and courageous predecessors have before him, with a profound awareness of the dignity of humanity and the strength of the Prince of the Apostles in defending that dignity in the promotion of authentic peace and justice.
In calling for and receiving the attention of the world in an effort to fast and pray for peace and civility in Syria, Pope Francis has shown himself to be the world’s Pastor, a voice for all who urge humanity to once again realize how truly and deeply our nature has been touched by God. It is in this moment, as the Holy Father teaches, that we need to return to the earliest days of God’s action with creation—“God saw it was good.” How significant for the Pope to evoke the Book of Genesis and the Creation Story to correctly identify the evil protagonists in the current unfolding of events in Syria. The evil serpent brings doubt, fear, and trouble into the lives of our first parents and thus, violence, betrayal, cruelty and division, into the human family. This is not the “goodness” that God intends, and it is not the future He envisions for His children.
The Pope has called the world to an awareness of the universal Fatherhood of God and His true plan for authentic freedom for all people. The Pope discourages us from choosing sides from among groups who have proven they cannot be trusted as forces for good. War can only beget war and death, only more death. Indeed, the principals in Syria have shown only violence and selfishness. Our Christian brothers and sisters, along with other innocent people, are being ruthlessly exterminated in violent exhibitions of avarice and power.
It is clearly time, as Pope Francis and other religious leaders have pointed out, that we speak the truth in love. We speak in God’s name—however we address Him—to bring about authentic peace, real solutions, and an end to violence. No more war, never again war!
Pray for peace—every time you go to Mass.