We often criticize the hierarchy for moving in the wrong direction on issues, different from what we think. Perhaps they deserve criticism, at least once in a while, but it is helpful to remember that there are 69,436,660 Catholics in this country, according to the Kenedy Directory, and while this is not the largest concentration of Catholics in the world, it is likely the largest group of well-educated Catholics in the world, many of whom have their own opinions about many issues the bishops address. Like the current issue of attacking Syria with guided missiles. The bishops (together with the Pope) seek a peaceful approach to this situation, and are supported by many. But there is also a sizeable group favoring a limited and targeted missile attack. What to do? The current Syrian regime has killed and injured many civilians. Is a worldwide consultation process on dealing with this problem preferable? Like the man beating up his wife while the neighbors look on, is it wrong for one burly neighbor punching out the offending husband? Or is it wrong to slap the baby’s hand for constantly dumping cereal on the kitchen floor? The Good Samaritan parable in the gospel proposes as a model for us the Samaritan who goes to the aid of the wounded Jew. True enough, he doesn’t do this violently since the perpetrators are long gone. John Paul II seemed to favor intervention by the international community of nations in the internal affairs of a nation that is harming its citizens in a significant way, over a long period of time. He said this against the (1993) background of Haiti, Bosnia, Liberia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Burundi. This kind of intervention, while violent, is more like police-action than war since it often involves dealing with citizens fighting against fellow-citizens. What should we do? Is prayer the answer? Is an effort to galvanize the international community (the UN seems unlikely, given Russian and Chinese opposition)? Will delay be more harmful to Syrian citizens than a missile strike? We can hardly expect unanimity to ensue about any course of action. This is a difficult call for church leaders.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.