11 September 2013

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

- His Holiness Benedict XVI, 20 April 2008


  1. Father, I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to my question in detail. In all sincerity, I have to observe that this is one of the most eloquent posts I've read on a complex topic in a long while. You are a gifted writer. (Reaching across the decades to include Tolkien's observation is a particularly nice touch. I really mean that.)

    I do think, though, that the article from The Blaze does not provide much of a hedge against the claim that Assad's government is very likely responsible for the chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21. Back in the Reagan era, we became acquainted with the term "plausible deniability" with regard to the president being STRATEGICALLY kept out of the loop for his own sake with regard to Oliver North's efforts to fund the contras on the sly. It was clearly understood within the administration that Reagan wanted to see that happen somehow or another; he just didn't want to know the details. (Actually, "plausible deniability" may date back to Nixon; not certain about that.) If Assad's generals (etc.) used chemical weapons, is Assad ultimately not responsible -- as head of state and as head of the military command in Syria -- for that action? It's his regime. I have a tough time believing that members of Assad's military would have taken such actions if they had thought there was any likelihood that Assad truly disapproved. Conspicuously rejecting requests to use C.W. does not mean that a tacit message to the contrary wasn't being given. And Assad does bear responsibility for actions taken by his military. He is not, after all, a lowly foot soldier.

    In any case: Thanks for your thoughtful response to my question. I'll try to read up on the Vatican's proposal. Let us all (as you and Pope Francis have both suggested) pray for peace.

    1. You're very welcome, Steve; thank you for your kindness.

      You point about the possibility of "plausible deniablity" with regards to Assad certainly is possible; still, though, we do not for certain who used the chemical weapons.

      Even if Assad's forces did use them, either against or at his will, there is still the question of the use of chemical weapons by the rebels that has not been resolved but seems certain to have occurred at least once in the past.

      Do we take out Assad - or at least weaken him - and leave chemical weapons in the hands of the rebels to use against the Christians without the defense of the Syrian government? That seems a very bad idea to me and very ignoble.

      This is a question on which people of good will can disagree, and I think you for your respectful disagreement; the way forward must be through an authentic dialogue.

      Yes, let us pray with great fervor for peace to prevail!