View from the Pew
Prayers go out for peace over the water and overseas
Prayers for peace were solicited in a couple of messages in the electronic mailbox this week.
One came from Kauai, where a prayer vigil was planned to stimulate "a consciousness of peace and harmony" in the week ahead leading to resumption of Hawaii Superferry service. The boat sails next Saturday between Oahu and Maui, but the company held off on a Kauai schedule while, per its news release, it is engaged in community outreach there.
Though the announcement of the Kauai gathering talked about a full moon, candlelight vigil and water blessing, it's likely that authorities would be skeptical that the gathering at Nawiliwili Harbor will be that mellow. Could there be plotting behind the praying?
Ferry opponents were not placated by the process of legislative action and court approval allowing continued operation while an environmental assessment is belatedly undertaken. Will the peaceful chanting deteriorate into screaming invectives for a repeat of past anti-ferry demonstrations? Are peace and harmony possible in the complex issue?
The other plea for prayer came from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago urged his fellow bishops to encourage all American Catholics to pray for peace. He asked that Catholic parishes particularly pray for that intention tomorrow, in advance of the Middle East peace conference to begin Tuesday in Annapolis, Md.
The United States will host the conference to pursue a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, who have agreed to come to the table. Several other countries will send representatives.
The skeptic meter reading might beep at the mention of harmony on the Superferry. When it comes to measuring expectations for peace in the Mideast, picture those scary Cold War-days movies when the Geiger counter ratchets up to a roar. Talk about complex. Talk about timing: The last time the United States hosted peace negotiations, it was the end of the previous president's term, and it fizzled. Peace as the punctuation mark at the end of presidency known for war -- surely there's a faith-based support group for that.
Shouldn't there be peace prayer initiatives on a broader religious spectrum? They didn't make it into the e-mail box. Maybe it's time to try the New Age strategy for harmonic convergence from a generation ago. What if we all whispered "Peace, please" from every spot on earth at the same time?
The Catholic cleric reminded his peers that "in recent years we have joined with Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East to support a two-state solution to the conflict."
"The call to prayer has a special timeliness this week, but the path to a just peace will be long and will stretch beyond the peace conference itself. In the weeks and months ahead, may we persevere in prayer for a just peace for Israelis, Palestinians and the whole region."
From your lips to God's ears, Cardinal George. From our lips to God's ears.