People evacuate Zaventem airport after explosions near Brussels March 22. (CNS photo/Laurent Dubrule, EPA)

 

Once again terrorists have struck in one of the major capitals of Europe. We join all men and women of faith and good will in praying for the victims and their families. We pray as well that the forces of hatred be converted even as we reject their fanaticism based upon a perverted and blasphemous reference to God.

After the effort of many peoples in our country, including many of us in this Diocese, the U.S. Secretary of State has finally recognized that the intent and the activity of ISIS and Al Qaeda constitute a planned genocide against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere. If his words lead to a renewed effort of legitimate resistance to the forces of evil and destruction, then this declaration will have had the impact it should have.

With St. Paul we overcome evil with good. Yet good has to be not merely words but deeds that protect the innocent, resist the evil and overcome the forces that are bent on world dominance. The principles of Catholic Social Teaching have long enshrined the rules for a just war. These should be observed when judging whether or not one might use force – not violence – but justified force. If that be the case, then we should always observe the rules of how such force may legitimately be used in combat.

All of us prefer that peace be established through negotiation. Diplomatic means of resolving conflict are always preferable. Violence only begets more violence. We pray and will never cease praying for peace. At the same time legitimate governments have the solemn duty to provide their citizens with safety and protection from enemies within and without. May the death of the Lord which we commemorate this Friday be the power to transform our hearts and shelter all those who have lost families and homes in these hours of trial and suffering.

 

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