October 16, 2022

Throughout the month of October, the Church in the USA asks that we focus our attention on our Baptismal call to promote Respect for all of Life. As I mentioned in the past two weekend bulletins, I encourage each of us to contemplate these words of Pope Francis who challenges each of us to promote respect for life. The Holy Father said, All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable…..The sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.

The war in Ukraine continues to go on and on with so many innocent people, especially the young and elderly, suffering so much from this unjust war. Many people have been forced to leave their homes, family and country seeking safety in other countries. We here in Chicago have welcomed many refugees from Ukraine and others from various countries in the past few months. I commend the compassion of the Archdiocese and many others for offering help to many who have come seeking safety in our city. Last Sunday in his Angelus address at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke forcibly about the war in Ukraine. I invite you to reflect upon his words urging peace in Ukraine. His Angelus address is below...

Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

The course of the war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening, as to cause great concern. Therefore, today I would like to devote the entire reflection before the Angelus to this. Indeed, this terrible and inconceivable wound to humanity, instead of healing, continues to shed even more blood, risking to spread further.

I am saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months. I am saddened by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction which has left many people and families homeless and threaten vast territories with cold and hunger. Certain actions can never be justified, never! It is disturbing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through names such as Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaparizhzhia and other areas, which have become places of indescribable suffering and fear. And what about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd.

What is to happen next? How much blood must still flow for us to realize that war is never a solution, only destruction? In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire. Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable. And they will be so if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.

I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.

My appeal is addressed first and foremost to the President of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his own people. On the other hand, saddened by the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the aggression they have suffered, I address an equally confident appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace. I urge all the protagonists of international life and the political leaders of nations to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue. Please let the younger generations breathe the salutary air of peace, not the polluted air of war, which is madness!

After seven months of hostilities, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War in itself is an error and a horror!

Let us trust in the mercy of God, who can change hearts, and in the maternal intercession of the Queen of Peace, as we raise our Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, spiritually united with the faithful gathered at her Shrine and in so many parts of the world.

I have also placed below a Letter from the Leaders of Franciscan Life who issued this statement from Assisi on the feast of St. Francis, 4 October 2022. They wrote...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!

As we are gathered together in the city of St. Francis on the occasion of his feast, we send you our heartfelt request to stay attentive to the issue of peace at this very difficult time for humanity. We want to express our deeply felt concern for peace, especially in the light of the suffering that has already been inflicted upon so many, and the risk that nuclear weapons could be used.

The Lord gave St. Francis a proclamation to be addressed to all, “May the Lord give you peace!” It has become an essential element of our charism. We welcome the gift of peace through the conversion of hearts. We ourselves are called to be meek, peaceful, modest and humble men and women, without quarrels or rivalry. Let us therefore be witnesses to the peace we have received.

“Nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost with war. May men once more begin to understand one another. May they once more talk to each other. If they deal with one another in good faith and with respect for reciprocal rights, they will realize that an honorable outcome is never prejudiced by frank and effective negotiations.” In 1939, Pius XII addressed this cry to everyone on the eve of the outbreak of World War II. Now, his words are dramatically relevant again. “Never again war!” exclaimed St. Pope Paul VI during his address to the United Nations. St. Pope John Paul II called war “an adventure without return.” On September 25, 2015, Pope Francis addressed the United Nations with an identical request: “No more war; war is the negation of all rights.”

Attentive to the signs of the times and these words from our charism and our pastoral leaders, we invite everyone to seriously and passionately take up the concern for peace, and to pray constantly for this precious gift. While with evil we see the mystery of immorality in action, we respond to it with penance and prayer, by promoting reconciliation and peace, and by raising awareness among ourselves and many others regarding this fundamental issue. In our formation and our preaching, in our various works and service projects, in proclamation and in daily life, may we promote peace and reconciliation with power and conviction.

Let us entrust this great and urgent prayer for peace to the Queen of Peace and to our humble and peaceful Saints Francis, Clare and Elizabeth. In closing, we offer you our best wishes and a fraternal embrace. Signed, By the Leaders of the Conference of the Franciscan Family in Assisi.

With talk of even using nuclear weapons in the present world conflict, I ask that each one of us pray to Jesus, to help us all to do everything we can to promote peace and protect the innocent who are in harm's way.in our world. St. Peter's is open each day for you to stop in and offer a prayer for peace. Please consult the bulletin or website for the times when church is open for prayer.

I also encourage everyone who is a citizen to VOTE in the coming election. National and State elections are on Tuesday, November 8. Early election polling sites are now open. As citizens it is our duty to participate in helping keep our country's democracy alive and well. May each of us do our part to maintain the health and wellbeing of our country.

Fr. Michael