On Saturday March 1st the Redemptorists of the Edmonton-Toronto Province joined others in placing an Ad in The Globe and Mail and Le Devoir. We spoke out against a war in Iraq in union with the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops, Development and Peace, Kairos – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, other Christian Denominations and many Catholic Religious Orders. Many of us realize that, in a very real sense, since 1991 there has been an ongoing war against Iraq causing much suffering to the Iraqi people due to the sanctions imposed after the Gulf War. There has to be another way.
Pope John Paul II says that: “war is the defeat of humanity.” In recent days the Holy Father has sent his personal envoy to both Baghdad and Washington pleading for peace and a just resolution to this tragedy. It is interesting to note that both Tony Blair of England and George W. Bush of the United States are two leaders in the West who take their religious commitment quite seriously and regularly attend Sunday worship services. In England the new Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says that this war with Iraq cannot be justified according to Christian moral convictions. And in the United States the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and others are telling George W. Bush the same. This should be a moment of reflection for all.
It seems to me that if we take the Incarnation of God in history and culture seriously, then maybe we should be looking for as many “street calls” as some do “altar calls.” God in Jesus was into downward mobility while so many of us are into upward mobility and escape from history and its struggles. We must never forget that the human is the Icon of God.
Human security is not only to be seen as military security. Human security is concerned about enough food, water, housing for all. It is concerned about just and right relationships among peoples. It is concerned about the sustainability of life on our planet. There is a cry for a sense of a global community where all have their home. Carl Sagan shortly before he died wrote a beautiful book titled: A Pale Blue Dot. Mother Earth as seen in a photo taken by Voyageur I from 3.1 miles out in space. When we reflect on the universe we note that we live in a pale blue dot in a beam of light. This radically changes perspective and deserves much reflection. Terrorism must be seen in a context as well. International trade laws, for example, that destroy major parts of the world from enjoying the “gifts of the earth and the work of human hands” must also be seen as a terrorist act. The bombing of the World Trade Centre with aircraft, while wrong and terrible, must invite questions from us as it did for Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Mary Jo Leddy in her new book: Radical Gratitude, asks the same question – “When is enough, enough?” To support the present life-style of Canadians and people in the West, we would need three planet earths.
The Redemptorists of the Edmonton – Toronto province continue to be actively involved with Kairos – The Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives of the churches. We are part of the campaign against the war in Iraq and we are speaking to the Canadian government to do all in its power to remember Canada’s history as a peace builder and peacekeeper. It is also important for us to remember that we have Redemptorist confreres in the area.
During this season of Lent let us all once again learn the lost art of fasting and prayer. Often it is only this discipline that will bring us to our senses and help us see clearly that war is not an option and that our calling as baptized Christians and men and women of good will is to protect Mother Earth and all her species.
Paul E. Hansen