Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 28, 2006
Only justice can stop terrorism
Australian bishop calls for a brokered peace
"It is blasphemous when such fighting takes place in the name of God."
- Bishop Pat Power
"Since the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, (U.S. President) George W. Bush and his supporters have been outdoing each other in proclaiming a war on terror," he said.
The bishop stressed that a war on poverty would be much more constructive than the current war on terror that is "increasing fear in every part of society."
"It is obvious that terrorism is now a much greater threat because the divide between 'them and us' has grown far greater," he said. "The notion that one side can be beaten into submission by the other is a recipe for conflict rather than peace."
The decisions to use force by Israel in Lebanon and Gaza and by the United States in Iraq in 2003 were both flawed, Power said.
"In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, I asked the question, 'Is an Iraqi life of any less value than a British, an American or an Australian life?' During the current conflict, I ask, 'Is a Lebanese or a Palestinian life of less value than an Israeli life or the life of a citizen of a Western country?'" he said.
"I believe we got it wrong in 2003 and I fear that we are getting it horribly wrong right now."
The bishop said the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory is hampering efforts at peace.
"If the Muslim world could see that the West was serious about helping to find a just solution for the Palestinian people, the hatred towards the United States and its allies would be reduced," he said. The occupation, deprivation of food, water and medical supplies in Gaza and the building of a wall limiting movement of Palestinians "are hardly recipes for peace."
"While the United States, Australian and other like-minded governments give a wink and nudge to Israel as it continues on such a course, they become complicit in the escalation of the conflict," the bishop said.
"Instead of undermining the United Nations, our governments should be giving it every support trying to broker peace for Palestine, Israel and the world."
"Terrorism is now a much greater threat because the divide between 'them and us' has grown far greater."
- Bishop Pat Power
Power urged the governments of the region to make "daring gestures which show that all parties are serious about peace and are prepared to give something themselves rather than be demanding of others."
"Is it possible for the Israeli government to say 'sorry' to the people of Lebanon and Gaza?" he asked.
"Are countries such as the U.S. and Australia prepared to help seriously rather than in a token way in the reconstruction of the towns and villages destroyed in the recent conflict?
"Is Hezbollah prepared to return the captured Israeli soldiers and guarantee that there will be no further attacks on Israel provided that it is prepared to withdraw from Lebanon and desist from any further attack on that country?"
Dialogue and negotiation provide the key in move forward, the bishop said, "rather than beating each other into submission."
He stressed that interreligious dialogue is important today to help prevent "old divisions to erupt into hatred and war. It is blasphemous when such fighting takes place in the name of God," he added.
He pointed to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which aim toward implementation by 2015 to eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education, reduce child mortality, promote gender equality, combat diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and encourage global development.
"An unequivocal commitment to such goals by the richer countries of the world would send a clear message to less fortunate people that they are not being forgotten; indeed, that that they have fundamental rights to an equitable share in this world's goods," Power said.
Yet, pointing to "the obscene use of oil and the raping of the environment," the bishop said, "the prosperous countries of the world seem to be selfishly looking after their own narrow concerns, often at the expense of developing nations."
"Peace at any level, and especially world peace, will never be easily achieved," Power said.
"But unless individuals and governments begin to take a less selfish and self-righteous attitude and show what it means to belong to one human family, the future of our planet will be bleak."
(© Catholic Online 2006, www.catholic.org)
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