March 27, 2003
Praying for Peace
By Kristen Fox / SUN contributing writers
Bishop James Moynihan presides at Mass for Peace
As U.S.-led air strikes were launched against the nation of Iraq and war protesters and supporters demonstrated everywhere, worshippers across the diocese prayed March 20 for a quick end to the conflict. A special Mass for peace, with Bishop James Moynihan as the main celebrant, was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.
On a day of violence, the theme of the Mass was peace. The 120-plus worshippers who gathered for the 12:15 p.m. liturgy sang hymns including “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” and “Peace is Flowing like a River.” Many had tears in their eyes. Bishop Moynihan during his homily told the congregation that as war with Iraq looms, it might seem as if prayers to God for a peaceful solution to the crisis have not been answered. “But God hears us,” Bishop Moynihan said, “and although He may have not responded in a way that we had hoped for, He will still answer our prayers.”
“For days and weeks and months, we have been praying for a peaceful solution to the controversy between our government, other governments and the nation of Iraq. It may have seemed that we were praying for a miracle, and perhaps we were. However, we know that all prayers are heard by a gracious God and that God has His own ways of answering them, usually in a time other than our own,” said Bishop Moynihan. Bishop Moynihan added now that conflict has come between the U.S. and the people of Iraq, the faithful should continue to pray. He asked them to join him in praying for the conflict to end, for the voluntary disarmament of Iraq and for an end to violence.
“I pray for no bloodshed and for the safety of combatants and non-combatants alike. And I am still praying that a disarmament of the Iraqi nation will come about voluntarily on the part of that country,” noted Bishop Moynihan. In addition, Bishop Moynihan made a special prayer request for those leaders who are representing the U.S, and for all the men and women overseas. “We pray for the nation’s leadership that God will direct them in all things,” he said. “We also pray for the families of our soldiers and the families of their soldiers.”
Bishop Moynihan on March 20 also released a statement which called on Catholics to “turn away from the sin of violence that is being experienced in the lives of the Iraqi people, as well as the violence we so readily choose to use to settle personal, national and global problems.” Martin Connor, a parishioner of St. Michael’s Church in Syracuse, attended the noon Mass at Cathedral as he regularly does during the work week. This Mass, he believes, was an important one. “Today, Catholics, along with people of all faiths across the country have convened and joined together in prayer,” Connor stated. “We are united and God will hear us.” Connor said that although he has been praying for a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Iraq, war seems inevitable. Like other Catholics, he had hoped that the U.S. could have found a more peaceful solution to the crisis instead of waging war. All he can do now, he said, is pray.
“If we should go to war, I just pray for a short war, with as little loss of military lives and civilian lives, especially women and children, as possible,” he said. “But the threat of war does not mean that we should stop hoping for a peaceful solution. Ultimately, I hope for peace –– for an end to terrorism, with Saddam and his regime removed.” Bishop Moynihan told those in attendance not to give up hope for peace, stating that war is not the answer. “Our Holy Father has repeatedly stated that war is not the way to peace,” he said. “Peace begins with our own hearts. Peace begins in the hearts of our so-called enemies. How many times do we have to keep saying –– Never again war; war never again.”