Resources for Syria

The Mennonite Central Committee (US), has put together a webpage for resources related to the Syrian conflict.

Check it out here.

God of Compassion,

Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.

God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,

Amen 

The Orthodox Position on War

Banner priest 

A great article outlining the Orthodox Church perspective on war in general in light of current events:

Four great pericope’s from this article [emphasis added]:

In his book Contemporary Moral Issues Facing Orthodox Christians, Fr. Stanley Harakas says, “the Church as a whole and its ethical teaching is opposed to war, which it sees as a most terrible evil which nations inflict upon each other. In the strict sense of the word, there is no good war.” From an Orthodox perspective there is no possibility of a just war, as all war is evil and therefore cannot be justified for any reason.

The entirety of the Orthodox Spiritual life requires humanity to be at peace with itself and with one another. The Great Litany is used each time the Orthodox gather for worship. The litany begins with the words, “In peace let us pray to the Lord,” and the word peace appears three more times in that litany alone. During the services of the Orthodox Church the faithful continually pray for peace so that we may live out our spiritual lives in harmony with all of humanity. We are to share God’s peace with those around us and in doing so we imitate the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and we participate in His work.

From an Orthodox perspective there is no justification for war; even a war of defense is a lesser evil but is still an evil. The Orthodox Church, by faith and practice, believes that peace is normal and just. Therefore, war would be not only evil but it would be non-normative. We are to seek peace in each and every situation. The Greek Fathers wrote about peace in all situations and as such there would be no Orthodox Just War Theory as exists in Western Theological thought.

It is a result of our fallen human nature that there is evil in this world and sometimes violence is necessary to overcome that evil. It is my prayer that a peaceful solution can be found to end this horrific situation in Syria and in Egypt but if peace does not work that hostilities are kept to a minimum.

Anabaptists will share a deep resonance with our Orthodox brothers and sisters on this issue. Though, it should be noted that even in the Latin Church (Catholic), both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI (and I would be shocked if not Francis) posited that it is simply not possible to meet the criteria for a just war anymore, given the weapons available today.

Read the rest of the article here.

St. Augustine on War seeking Peace

06 St Augustine jpg

I found this quote from St. Augustine in a collection of his Political Writings (pp. 9-11):

Everyone who has observed the conduct of men’s affairs and common human nature will agree with me in this: that just as there is no man who does not long for joy, so there is no man who does not long for peace. Even those who want war, want it really only for victory’s sake: that is, they want to attain a glorious peace by fighting. For what is victory if not the subjugation of those who resist us? And when this is done, peace follows.

It is therefore with desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle. And hence, it is obvious that peace is the end sought for war. For every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. For even they who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish tit changed into a peace that suits them better. They do not, therefore, wish to have no peace, but only one more to their mind . . .

. . . And thus all men desire to have peace with their own circle whom they wish to govern as suits themselves. For even those whom they make ar against they wish to make their own, and impose on them the laws of their own peace.

Given the great tendency towards war that we have experience in the 20th and 21st Century, what do you make of St. Augustine’s thoughts?

Source: The Political Writings, Gateway Edition, 0-89526-704-7