Surrounded by numerous violent conflicts throughout the world, the faithful should not forget the power of prayer, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “In the coming days and weeks I urge you to ask our Catholic people to pray for peace and to support diplomatic efforts aimed at dialogue and reconciliation,” Archbishop Kurtz said in a July 22 letter to the U.S. bishops. “As Jesus admonishes us: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.” The world’s violent conflicts “cry out for peace,” demanding both prayer and action, he said, encouraging prayers for peace both in personal devotion and during the prayers of the faithful at Mass. “We should never underestimate the power of prayer; for it touches and opens us to the power of God among us,” the archbishop emphasized. “My prayer is that together we might help open our world to God’s gift of peace, a peace that the world cannot give.” Archbishop Kurtz, who heads Kentucky’s Archdiocese of Louisville, noted Pope Francis’ recent attention to conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. The Pope has singled out the “terrible crisis” facing Christians in Iraq, saying on July 20, “Today our brothers are persecuted. They are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!” Archbishop Kurtz noted that the “alarming conflicts” of Iraq and Syria have driven millions from their homes. He also referenced the “terrible conflict between Israel and Hamas,” saying it “terrorizes Israeli civilians” and has killed more than 500 Gazans, predominantly civilians. “We are mindful of the violent conflict in Ukraine, of the thousands who are displaced, and the hundreds of innocent civilians whose lives were cut short when a passenger jet was shot down,” the archbishop added. In addition, he mentioned the “often forgotten clashes” of Africa in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have killed thousands and displaced many more. The archbishop also lamented the Central American violence driving unaccompanied children to seek refuge in the U.S. He again cited Pope Francis, who said on Sunday, “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!” Archbishop Kurtz urged the bishops to join their prayers and calls to action with Pope Francis’ words.
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