Homily delivered during noon Mass at St. Mary of Mercy Church, downtown Pittsburgh
Just two weeks ago we gathered here at Saint Mary of Mercy Church to initiate the Lenten season of reconciliation, repentance and penance and we did so in a context of prayer for peace. Responding to the sentiments of so many of the faithful and our neighbors in this community we asked God for the blessings of peace. Much has changed since then. Today we recognize that armed conflict is underway in Iraq and as believers we turn once again to God in prayer.
A great deal has been said about the just war theory, its conditions and its application. Several weeks ago it was fitting to debate that matter.
Today the situation has changed. Our President together with the leadership of allied nations have concluded that the action they have ordered is justified. This is a gravely serious decision and one that I believe they have made conscientiously.
Good people can arrive at differing conclusions using the same moral principles applied to a highly complex, concrete situation.
What is fact is that our President has made this judgment and we are all called to support him in prayer that God will give him wisdom and guidance as our national leader.
Across this land men and women in uniform as part of our army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard are responding to the call of their nation in what is described as its legitimate defense. Our prayers must be with them and for them. They have not asked for this struggle but are asked to place themselves in harm's way for the sake of their nation.
On more than one occasion in recent days I have been asked by military personnel called to active duty to pray for them. This I wholeheartedly do and know that you do as well.
Many others are caught up in this military engagement. Both in Iraq and in our own land many innocent people will come into harm's way. We need also to pray for them. A sign of a truly strong nation is its ability to direct its affairs with justice and compassion.
We must also pray for understanding among all of us whether citizens of this country or citizens of the world. This is a struggle between nations, states and governments. This is not a conflict about or among three great religious traditions. Christians, Jews and Muslims live together in peace in this country and do so in many parts of the world. We must not confuse state policy with religious conviction and faith.
Finally we must, as we did two weeks ago, continue to pray for peace. Every one of us whatever our political persuasion, our conviction about the military action underway, our economic condition, cultural or ethnic background, is a child of God.
The kingdom of God is a realm of justice, truth and peace. We are called to pray for the realization of that kingdom which begins first in our hearts, then in our lives and only then in our world.
May God bless our President, our military personnel, our peacemakers, and all the human family the fruit of God's creative power -- that still has so much to learn.
We may not have achieved it yet but Jesus reminds us this is why he has come among us. To bring reconciliation, to free us all from alienation from God and from one another, and to offer us true
Let us pray for that peace that only God can give.