no. 2 april - june 2004
It’s wonderful claim "we want peace", but the Prophet Isaiah, remembered in our Rule, warns that peace is the fruit of justice. In this world marked by so much injustice we have to be prophets and heralds of peace. Father Carlos Mesters remembers in his message: "Dear friends, lovers of peace, I send to you my support for the petition for Peace. As the psalm says: "Peace is all my desire! But, when I say PEACE", they cry "War!" (Psalm 120,7). But I continue to cry and say, the same: "PEACE!"
In the last meeting of the International Commission of Justice and Peace, in October 2003, the participants assigned, as an action in favor of Peace and Justice, the participation of Carmelites in the multiple manifestations against the war in Iraq and asking for Peace. Now, wherever, those manifestations and discussions in favor of Peace continue, asking for an International and diplomatic solution guided by UN, with the retreat of the military forces of occupation.
We have to remember some facts: this is the most contested war, criticized by UN, by the Pope and by the people that demonstrated in their millions all over the world; is a war marked by the lies that with false reports impelled the invasion of Iraq, creating more insecurity for that country and for all the world, we remember the attacks in Spain; the occupation of Iraq provokes the continuation of the war with serious lesions to human rights and to international rights, as is frequently denounced by the humanitarian organizations. For these reasons and more we can remember is our duty, people of good will, to stimulate international solidarity, to lobby governments for a diplomatic solution in Iraq. Plus, we must concretely help all the humanitarian efforts to reconstruct Iraq and the physical salvation of this martyred population. To this task we are impelled by the authority of the word of Bible and the Church, continued expressed by our Pope, John Paul II,
Let us remember the words of the President John F. Kennedy address to the General Assembly of UN, 25th September 1961: "For peace is not solely a matter of military or technical problems—it is primarily a problem of politics and people. … But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone. If we all can persevere, if we can in every land and office look beyond our own shores and ambitions, then surely the age will dawn in which the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved. … Ladies and gentlemen of this Assembly, the decision is ours. Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can—and save it we must—and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God."
(Freely taken from Dossier Iraq by Caritas Italiana, http://www.sir.glauco.it/sirs2/s2magazine/index.jsp?idPagina=298 )
On 20th March 2003 the bombing on Baghdad began by the British and American troops. Some hours later, the US ground troops crossed the board of Kuwait, beginning the invasion by land. Although they met some resistance, on 9th April the capital was under the control of the allied forces that officially decrees the end of the war. In reality, after that date another war started as cruel as the previous one and still remains so.
Iraq is a country on its knees, a country destroyed, and we don’t know and will never know what happened and is still happening inside this country; for all the information, all images are filtered, and journalists who wanted to document out of the established way, paid with the price of their own skin. The problem that is immediately faced, and which was easily predictable, is that of terrorism, that in fact has bloomed in all its violence.
The situation of this Country is an endless list of misfortunes, where it is difficult to discern how much debt there is from the war and from the economic sanctions. The industrial, energetic and communication systems are largely compromised, as also health and water availability, for drinking and for irrigation. There are millions of homeless, high inflation, unemployed, are part of a sad picture.
The children’s situation is very serious. Many sources report that an average of 4,000 children under 5 years, old die every month. Already in 1993 the WHO presented a number this high and also more (5.000). Psychological problems are very common. Poverty knocks down families and in particular the women on whom the responsibility to carry on the family falls heavily.
According the UNICEF report of 1999, the level of children’s mortality in Iraq is one of the highest of the world. Almost 23% of children born under weight, 1 child over 4 suffers chronic malnutrition; only 41% of the population has regular access to potable water; 83% of schools need major rebuilding works. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) affirms that the Iraqi sanitary system is in a calamitous situation. According to United Nations Developing Program (UNDP) necessary 7 billion dollars to allow the restart of the Country and put it at the standard of 1990.
The Christians in Iraq are almost 800.000, of these there are 700.000 Catholics. Most of the Christians who live in the capital come from the North of Iraq (Kurdistan) refugees in Baghdad from the fights against the curds factions and the Iraqi army in that zone. The Church of Iraq is mostly concentrated in Baghdad where there are 28 churches; other 8 churches are at Mosul, 6 at Karakosh and 8 at Kurdistan.
Caritas Iraq is a well structured an organization composed by professionals in the fields of nutrition, engineering and technical help. Caritas Iraq is present in the Country with 14 sanitary centers at: Baghdad, Mosul, Qarakoush, Kirkuk e Bassora. Caritas Iraq, with its 14 local Caritas’ centers and its social-sanitary programs try to alleviate part of the suffering of the poors. Caritas actions in Iraq are concentrated in the areas of nutrition, social-sanitary assistance, rehabilitation of the structures of water purification, rehabilitation of the infrastructure for sanitary services, even in the north Iraq (Kurdistan). The Caritas is the only International NGO which has access to all zones of the whole County.
More information about the situation in Iraq and the possibility of concrete help to this martyred people may be found at several websites, we indicate some well know and trustfully organizations:
If you want more personalized information Fr. Nizar Semaan, parish priest of Karakosh, Mosul, Iraq, is available. He writes to the Agenzia Fides about the situation of the Church in Iraq. Fr. Nizar at the moment lives in Italy, Parrocchia di S. Domenico Savio (Diocesi di Latina), Via delle Arene, Terracina (LT), Italia – telefono cellulare (+39) 3478401736, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The archbishop of Baghdad is a Discalced Carmelita, Mons. Jean Benjamin Sleiman, O.C.D., electronic address email@example.com
Resurrexit! Today you, O Redeemer of mankind, rise victoriously from the
tomb to offer to us, troubled by many threatening shadows, your wish for
joy and peace.
Those who are tempted by anxiety and desperation turn to you, O Christ, our life and our guide, to hear the proclamation of the hope that does not disappoint. On this day of your victory over death, may humanity find in you, O Lord, the courage to oppose in solidarity the many evils that afflict it.
In particular, may it find the strength to face the inhuman, and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism, which rejects life and brings anguish and uncertainty to the daily lives of so many hard-working and peaceful people.
May your wisdom enlighten men and women of good will in the required commitment against this scourge.
May the work of national and international institutions hasten the overcoming of the present difficulties and favour progress towards a more effective and peaceful world order.
May world leaders be confirmed and sustained In their efforts to resolve satisfactorily the continuing conflicts that cause bloodshed in certain regions of Africa, Iraq and the Holy Land.
You, firstborn of many brothers, grant that all who consider themselves
children of Abraham may rediscover the brotherhood that they share and
that prompts in them designs of cooperation and peace. Take heed all of
you who have at heart mankind’s future!
At this time of endless war, which day by day becomes more disastrous to Iraq, and also to the other countries, grows the fear of terrorist actions, as happened in Spain. By the way it seems opportune remember a song from an Argentine composer, Leon Gieco, which can help us to reflect and pray for peace.
Leon Gieco wrote the song "Solo le pido a Dios" ("I only ask of God") by the time of Malvinas-Falkland’s war, when happened and useless destruction of many young argentine’s lives during the war. The singer Mercedes Sosa, even she Argentine, made this song international and made this comment in an interview: "Sólo le pido a Dios, de León Gieco, is a song that will never go out fashion; it is a theme for ever and ever,... with words that all of us have to be present, mainly when says: I only ask of God, that the war is not to me indifferent. – In the wars all the world loses. What happened in Malvinas, in Vietnam, in Iraq? In every conflict there are no winners, neither loosers; everybody loses."
Sólo le pido a Dios
words and music by Leon Gieco
(This song simply says: I only ask of God that He not let me be indifferent to the suffering)
I only ask of God not let me be indifferent to the suffering. That parched death does not find empty and alone without having done sufficient.
I only ask of God, that the unjust is not to me indifferent. That they do not slap the other cheek After that a claw me scrapes my forehead.
I only ask of God, that the war is not to me indifferent. It is a great monster which steps on strong all the poor innocence of the people.
I only ask of God that the deceit is not to me indifferent. If a traitor can more than a group, for that group do not forget it easily.
I only ask of God, that the future is not to me indifferent. Exiled is the one who has to leave, to be able to live a different culture
The Titus Brandsma Bulletin is a bi-annual publication of the International Commission for Justice and Peace. It is edited by Antonio Silvio da Costa Junior, O. Carm.
14-18 May – Meeting at Roma of Women Religious Superiors – at this meeting will be treated subjects of Justice and Peace.
22-23 May – Meeting at Roma about the Carmelite NGO.
1-8 October – Meeting at Kinshasa (Congo) of the International Commission for Justice and Peace of the Order.