The political aspects of the present war in Lebanon seem to be the focus of much reporting. The moral implications, however, are just as important. Should all of Lebanon and its citizens have to sustain being pounded each day for the behavior of some of its citizens? Likewise, should the Lebanese government absolve itself from harboring a militia within its territory and believe it is innocent of responsibility? Last, should a Lebanese militia endanger its fellow countrymen in order to engage another sovereign country in a war? These and more questions should be raised as we come to understand moral terms like proportionality, moral equivalency and blame.
The recent statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a welcome intervention. It is balanced, visionary and helpful in determining the moral responsibility of each of the parties involved.
Pope Benedict XVI has recently re-emphasized "the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, of the Israelis to live in peace in their state, and of the Palestinians to have their own free and sovereign homeland." This is a good balance of rights and responsibilities that implicates not only the rights bearer but the neighbor as well.
I think that beyond all the political and emotional appeals in this present conflict, the moral imperatives as outlined by the Holy Father are a sure way out of the madness, but the remedy must be steady and sure if it will last.
Since morality and prayer go together for people of all three monotheistic religions, we know that there is no way to accomplish what is most difficult without the grace of God in prayer. Our surest hope and only recourse is the one God. May Our Lady of Lebanon pray for and with us.
The Pope on Lebanon
Pope Benedict XVI, responding on July 30 to an Israeli air strike in Qana, southern Lebanon, where 54 civilians, including 37 children, were killed, declared, "In the name of God, I call to all those responsible for this cycle of violence to lay down their arms--both sides, and bring a halt to the violence."
Earlier the pope, during a day of prayer and penance on July 23 for peace in the Middle East, had demanded a cease-fire in the fighting in Lebanon and safe passage for humanitarian aid. "I forcibly renew my appeal to the conflicting parties," he said, "to begin an immediate cease-fire, to allow the passage of humanitarian aid and, with the support of the international community, to seek ways to begin negotiation.
"I take this opportunity to reiterate the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, of the Israelis to live in peace in their state and of the Palestinians to have their own free and sovereign homeland."
The pope expressed concern for "the defenseless civilian population, unjustly involved in a conflct of which they are only victims: both those in Galilee who are forced to live in shelters, and the great multitudes of Lebanese who, once again, are seeing their country destroyed."
Maronite Bishops’ Appeal
Lebanon’s Maronite bishops called on July 22 for an immediate cease-fire in Israel’s attack on Lebanon. The bishops’ statement listed eight points:
1) Condemnation of Israel’s overreaction to the kidnapping of two soldiers;
2) An appeal to help those forced to abandon their homes;
3) An appeal to the United Nations to double its efforts to arrive at a cease-fire;
4) Appreciation for the efforts of the Lebanese government;
5) Hope that all Lebanese political leaders will overcome their divisions;
6) A plea to all citizens to welcome their brothers without distinctions between Christians and Muslims;
7) An appeal to those responsible for the safe passage of food and medical supplies;
8) A request for prayers.
Donations for Lebanon
Tax-deductible contributions may be made by mail to CNEWA, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022-4195; by phone: (800) 442-6392; or through its Web site, www.cnewa.org.