Pray For Peace. Then Work For It.

Pray For Peace. Then Work For It. May 10, 2018

After Israel’s sabre-rattling with questionable claims against Iran, President Trump has called for the United States to back out of its nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump’s decision should be seen as troubling to all, not only because the United States has been shown that it cannot be trusted, but also because Iran will now be fearful of its own position in the Middle East and will seek to do all it can to keep itself safe, including building nuclear weapons as deterrents. The deal actually worked, and now that it is eliminated, Iran feels it has no reason why it should not pursue nuclear arms; indeed, Iran warned Trump that this should be what is expected if and when the United States reneges on its deal. Likewise, other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, seeing the changing situation, will also consider, if not also implement, nuclear programs of their own, demonstrating how the Iranian deal helped stabilize the region and its rejection can cause a new arms race in the Middle East.

It should not be surprising, then, that conflict between Israel and Iran, with Syria as a proxy, has already begun. Iran feels threatened by Israel, and Israel feels threatened by Iran. On Tuesday, Israel launched an air strike on Damascus. Later, Iran reportedly launched rockets into Golan Heights, and Israel retaliated with more strikes in Syria.  Israel ad Iran feel that what the other has done against them justifies their own militant reaction. The cycle of violence continues, and with it, the alarm has been raised that serious conflict might soon arise in the Middle East. Israel, it has been said, found the friend it wanted in Donald Trump so that it can be unrestrained in its response to Iran. But this does not mean Israel is now free from any risk, indeed, now it finds itself in a much riskier situation, requiring an increased interest in its own personal defense as Israel begins to prepare bomb shelters for its citizens in case war breaks loose in the region.

Pope Francis, seeing the rising tensions in the Middle East, has called the faithful, and all those of good will, to pray for peace:

I invite you to cultivate the devotion to the Mother of God with the daily recitation of the Rosary, praying in a special way for peace in Syria and in the entire world (VaticanNews)

Prayer is important. We need to pray for peace. But we also need to do more than pray. We need to be proactive workers for peace. We should use our prayers to energize us as we renew our efforts for peace. The church, with Pope Francis in charge, certainly has a role to play in such peacemaking. As Maryann Cusimano Love wrote in America, the Catholic Church is an ideal position to serve as an arbitrator for peace because of its historical relationship with Iran:

The church can play a positive role to de-escalate the renewed conflict. When politics is blocked at the governmental level, civil society and religious actors can often keep dialogue going among countries. The Catholic Church has had robust diplomatic relations with Iran for almost six decades. Catholic charities operate in Iran, Vatican officials and U.S. Catholic bishops meet regularly with Iranian counterparts, and Iran has more diplomats assigned to its Holy See embassy than any other country except the Dominican Republic (Trump broke the Iran deal. Can the church help reduce tensions?)

But we, too, can and should do what we can for peace.  Pray, yes, but then act. If nothing else, we must raise our voice and let it be among the many voices saying no to war. If we have contacts within the government, we should tell them that what Trump has done is unacceptable. We must tell our leaders in Congress we must stick by our deals, not break them, especially when breaking them brings the world to the brink of war. If we are called to fight in an unjust war, we must resist and say no, risking incarceration if necessary. We must speak to friends and family, explain to them why war, especially war in the Middle East, is unacceptable, so that we can raise more voices against war. We must reach out to Israelis, Syrians and Iranians, and bring together those who also do not want war, to bring together a coalition against war, from all sides, showing that peace is possible and conflict is not necessary. But if we cannot do any of those things, we can and should pray for peace and for those who seek to work for peace, giving them moral support. For if peacemakers see their efforts gaining support among the people of the world, then the nations of the world, and their leaders, will have to listen.


[Image= Jews Praying At The Western Wall by MathKnight and Zachi Evenor [CC BY 3.0 ( or CC BY 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons]


Stay in touch! Like A Little Bit of Nothing on Facebook

Browse Our Archives