In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis powerfully stated: “I will never tire of reiterating my call, addressed in particular to those who have political responsibility: ‘stop the bombs and missiles now, end hostile stances [everywhere].’”

The pope’s call for a global cease-fire is urgent: either we do not realize it, or we are pretending not to see that “we are on the brink of the abyss.”

It is tragic that many heads of state throughout the world – especially those who have “political responsibility” for dropping the bombs and firing the missiles – are ignoring the pleas and warnings of Pope Francis.

And it is also obvious that most Catholics and other Christians – especially those living in countries that have the greatest influence and who are producing the most weapons – are also ignoring the Holy Father’s pleas to stop the bombings.

Why are believers in the nonviolent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, so silent? Is it because most of those who are not in harm’s way don’t really care because the bombs are not falling on them?

According to United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, the world is experiencing the highest number of violent conflicts since World War II. A quarter of humanity – 2 billion people– live in places affected by armed conflict.

Research conducted by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs reveals that since 2001 at least 940,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in just the five countries of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan; with the number wounded far higher, along with the huge amount of civilians who have died indirectly as a result of the destruction of hospitals, infrastructure, and environmental contamination, together with other war-related problems.

The Brown University study further reveals that “thousands of United States service members have died in combat, as have thousands of civilian contractors. … Far more of the people killed have been civilians. More than 432,000 civilians have been in killed in the fighting since 2001.”

Those of us living in declining democracies still have the power of the people, the power of peacefully demanding an end to the madness of war which is draining essential goods and services from the poorest half of our human family – hundreds of thousands of whom face starvation.

After two years of bloody warfare between Russia and NATO-backed Ukraine, there is no end in sight. Instead, there are signs of ramping up the war which could spiral out of control at any time.

And why are we not demanding an immediate end to the genocide in Gaza?

A heartbreaking example of how the bombs and missiles of war continue to crush the little ones, is the ongoing brutal indiscriminate Israeli bombing of Gaza where more than 11,500 Palestinian children have been killed. Can’t we at least protect the children?

In his La Stampa interview Pope Francis once again expressed his belief that dialogue is the only path toward a peaceful future.

And building on the indispensable peaceful concept of dialogue is the equally indispensable concept of development.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said, “There is only one route to durable peace,” the route of sustainable development. It is the only reliable tool with which to break through cycles of instability and address the underlying drivers of fragility and humanitarian need.”

Mohammed further insightfully added that “investments in development, people, human security and shared prosperity are also investments in peace.”

In a very similar line of moral reasoning, St. Pope Paul VI titled his 1972 Day of Peace message with the now famous words: “If you want peace, work for Justice.”

And that’s exactly it! By working with the poor, both locally and globally, to acquire what is justly needed to live, and to live with dignity, we build peace, lasting peace!

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.

Image: Sister Corita at the Museum of Folk Art & Design “If You Want Peace, Work For Justice” (CC BY 2.0) by PunkToad

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Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net

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