Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 28, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Does war's suffering have a price tag?
I served with the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War. Subsequent to the war, I entered St. Joseph's Seminary and was ordained a priest in 1952. At that time the so-called Cold War was a threat and the archbishop asked me to return to military service as a chaplain. In 1956, the Suez crisis was threatening an outbreak of war in the Middle East.
It was our Canadian prime minister, Lester Pearson who approached the UN with an alternative to war. It was at this time that the United Nations established an International Peace Force to travel to the troubled parts of the world where war was imminent.
In 1956 I was sent to serve as a chaplain to the Middle East as a member of the United Nations Emergency Force. I was awarded the UN Emergency Force medal inscribed In the Service of Peace.
I continue on a part-time basis to work with the chaplains at the Canadian Forces Base Edmonton. At the base I see first hand the sacrifices of the service personnel and their families as they travel to all parts of the world - in the cause of peace.
Some families are separated almost 50 per cent of their time - a tremendous sacrifice for the children and their parents in the cause of peacekeeping. Throughout the world Canada is respected highly for its dedication to peace. It is a healthy relief for me, after watching the destruction of war on CNN, to be with our troops and their families making such sacrifices for peace.
There has never been a war that has been more opposed by most of the world. It is heartening to me to see this unique experience where so many people recognize that there is a higher guidance than our own national leaders. The guidance comes from Gospel principles.
The pope has spoken with much more courage, lamenting the fact the Iraqi government did not accept the resolutions of the UN. The pope appealed to Saddam. The pope also lamented and deplored the path of negotiations for a peaceful solution was interrupted. The pope's words "No to war! War is not always inevitable." It is always a defeat of humanity.
There is something which disturbs me a great deal - the number of Canadians who say we should support the war in Iraq because the U.S. is our major trading partner. Is this one of the "new" conditions for a just war? What amount of money would you exchange for the tremendous suffering of children and innocent people?
We do not have a perfect society on this continent - witnessed by the taking of millions of unborn lives.
What will be the outcome of this war in Iraq? What has this done to relations between Muslims and Christians? "War is not always inevitable, it is always a defeat for humanity" - Pope John Paul II.
May God bless our Canadian Forces men and women who make such great sacrifices in the cause of peace.
Rev. John McNeil, CD
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