As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:41-42)

Ten years ago, just scant hours after our nation witnessed the tragic events of September 11th, Pax Christi USA released a statement which said, in part:

We recognize that as the reality of the magnitude of loss becomes clear, our nation’s grief will soon move toward rage. As people of faith and disciples of the nonviolent Jesus, we must be willing, even now in this darkest moment, to commit ourselves and urge our sisters and brothers, to resist the impulse to vengeance. We must resist the urge to demonize and dehumanize any ethnic group as ‘enemy.’ We must find the courage to break the spiral of violence that so many in our nation, we fear, will be quick to embrace. (Pax Christi USA’s Official Statement on 9-11, published on September 12, 2001)

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of 9-11, as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist together, a question will be put to us:

Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?
Can anyone refuse mercy to another, yet expect pardon for one’s own sins? (Sirach 28:3-4)

These past ten years, we have witnessed the failure of policies built on vengeance. Our elected leaders manipulated our grief and fear to justify foreign policy decisions which had little to nothing to do with the tragedy of 9-11. Our nation was ensconced in a culture of fear, where the scapegoating of peoples, the fanning of religious intolerance, and the curtailing of civil rights served the needs of political expedience.

We have been witnesses to the dark places where our government’s response to 9-11 led our nation—the justification of torture, the moral bankruptcy of pre-emptive war, the daily reports of innocent civilians killed as collateral damage, the deaths of thousands of U.S. service personnel, and the stealing of our national wealth to pay for wars abroad as our children, our elderly, and the most vulnerable are left to suffer at home.

Today, as we acknowledge the ten year anniversary of 9-11, there can be no doubt that responding with war and violence can neither console us in our grief nor achieve the security for which we long.

In the weeks following 9-11, Pax Christi USA proclaimed that very message, and challenged our political leaders to seize this moment for peace by establishing justice for all peoples throughout the world. Until we commit our own nation to the pursuit of peace and justice for the entire human family, we should not be surprised when the violence suffered by those living on the other side of the world—as well as those living on the wrong side of town—eventually engulfs us all.

Ten years have passed, but we believe that the opportunity is still with us. Let us start, now, today, in Washington, D.C. and in every city and town across this land, in our schools and our places of worship and within our own homes. Let us write a new chapter and create a new legacy for all those whose lives were shattered on 9-11. Let each one of us decide what it is that we can do to create a legacy which heals instead of harms. Let us begin with the assurance that such healing will come if we make economic, political and social justice for all our top priority.

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, at the responsorial, Catholics will sing in churches throughout our nation:

Our God is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
God pardons all our iniquities, heals all our ills, redeems our lives from destruction, and crowns us with kindness and compassion. (Psalm 103)

This anniversary offers us an opportunity to reflect the values of the God to whom we have given our allegiance. Let us remember those who were lost and memorialize this day by committing our lives to “the things that make for peace”—drawing closer to those who suffer, cultivating understanding in the midst of suspicion, finding truth in the arguments of those with whom we disagree, embracing some measure of personal sacrifice today to make a better world for our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

Let us gather one decade from now—not amidst the ruins of all that has been torn down—but in the midst of that new world of peace and security for all which we have built up together.

10 thoughts on “STATEMENT: On the tenth anniversary of 9-11, The Things That Make for Peace

  1. While this is right on in many ways, much is left unsaid. While the acts of 9/11 were evil and in no way justified, nonetheless they also call into question America’s own ‘sins’-materialism, greed and lust for power. The prophets of old made the connection that when Israel suffered violence often it was the consequence of Israel’s own failure to follow God’s prompting. We support Saudi Arabia, home and support of the terrorists, because of our need for oil to fuel our economy. We supported Saddam Hussein against Iran; we supported the Mujahdeen against the Russians; we support South American dictatorships against the people. We are called to live materially simpler lives, with compassion, and to have a foreign policy based on justice and right understanding.

  2. while what Pax Christi says is true in part, to ignore the very strong evidence of insider complicity in the terrible event of 9-11 is to allow to leave hanging what the government is using to promote a false war against terrorism.

    At the very least, I would have hoped that Pax Christi would have called for the testimony under oath of Richard Cheney who, by the appointment of George Bush in the late spring of 2001, was in command of military exercises on that day.

    By now, there is a mountain of evidence that the government account of 9-11 is not true. I am sorry that Pax Christi has turned a blind eye to this, and left the militarists to use 9-11 as the perpetual rationale for war.

  3. From PAX CHRISTI TORONTO –
    Thank you for your prophetic Statement on the 10th Anniversary of 9-11. Here in Canada, we are also deeply mourning the loss represented by these 10 years of potential & opportunity to seriously address the root causes of terrorism, which have now spread like a virus across the globe, and which have definitely been compounded by the pre-emptive wars & attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq and recently in Libya.
    As North American neighbours & responsible nations of the world community, we have a collective mutual responsibility to protect innocent civilians from the injustice & violence resulting from such abuses as well as the misdirected resources & energies consumed in these campaigns of revenge & retaliation.
    Our human & technological resources which are now focussed and almost entirely channelled into perpetual warfare, now threaten the natural ecological balance of life on the planet earth and the integrity of creation.
    We pray that a spirit of repentance & faithfulness to the spirit of justice & peace will soon replace the tragic mistakes of this decade which has followed on the events of September 2001.
    Let there be peace on earth.

  4. “there can be no doubt that responding with war and violence can neither console us in our grief nor achieve the security for which we long.”

    will we ever learn? Thank you for the reflection and speaking of what will heal hearts.

  5. Thank you, Pax Christi USA, for your most prophetic message in which you clearly Speak Truth to Power regarding the 10-Year Anniversary of 9/11. But in it you also speak to all of us who have the power to challenge and change both ourselves and the prevailing mindset of hatred and retaliation. Your message is the voice of sanity and healing – a call to right relationships in the midst of a madness that has been and continues to be manipulated by the “Powers That Be.”

    If there is to be a refusal to use this anniversary to continue hijacking the souls of our citizens, it must begin with us. If there is to be a rejection of this madness – it must begin with us. If there is to be an embracing of the whole world as sisters and brothers, it must begin with us. If there is to be a commitment to building peace in our world, it must begin with us.

    Many have worked tirelessly in the past 10 years to stand firm against becoming what our military industrial corporate backed government would have us be. Deo Gratias! However, others may understandably be tempted to tire out, to give in, to give up. Be aware! This is exactly what the “Powers That Be” want – what they are waiting for. They need us to out of their way. But I say we need to be more in their way. We must stop them from manipulating the people into believing that America has a legitimate right to indiscriminately retaliate, so that they can go on creating an acceptable climate for military mob violence against our sisters and brothers in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan – and yes, ultimately, Iran.

    It’s no secret that we all have power, but we also know it’s the way we use our power that makes all the difference. So on this 10th Anniversary of 9/11, let us courageously use our personal and communal power to recommit ourselves to a life of active nonviolence. Let us continue to openly refuse to support the ruthless retaliation that our government has been engaged in for the past 10 years. And let us ask our children and our children’s children to help give voice to that refusal and that commitment, so that peace and peacemakers may finally prevail upon the earth…hopefully in their lifetimes…if not in ours. Peace! Shalom! Salaam!

  6. I am so anxious that this anniversary will continue to be another reason for a rational that justifies war. Will the truth be revealed and set uss free.

  7. As a teacher, I hope this anniversary will be an occasion to speak with students about peace and justice that calls for commitment to a nonviolent world.

  8. As a Salvatorian Priest I have heard friends and family members who believe that going to war is the only way to protect our family and our country. This never sat well with me. From a child on in Catholic grade school, high school and college as well as the seminary war has always been seen as death and long lasting pain to our country and the people who became soldiers.

    While studying to become a priest I spent three months at the Veterans hospital in Milwaukee, WI. doing my Clinical Pastoral Education. There I met men and women who served our country in war, WWI, II, Korean and Vietnam. Later I met men who served in Desert Storm and this present war. These men and women, no matter which war, carried scars that were well hidden in their mind as well as in their bodies. They were able to live with the bodily scars, but those they hid in their mind caused much pain and anguish till the day they died.

    This experience confirmed for me that war, no matter the reason is never good. But worst of all, war that is revenge, and our present war is just that, can never be considered the right thing to do. When James and his brother John told Jesus that this Samaritan town would not let them travel through, they asked him top call down brimstone and fire to destroy that town. Jesus said no. We will go another way. Jesus came to bring us life not death. War brings death not life.

    Just as Jesus cried over Jerusalem I cry over our country and our country’s leaders for getting us into this catastrophe half a world away. I pray constantly that we will wake up to the fact that our country and its leaders at the time were and still are wrong. I even teach and preach how Jesus came to bring peace and justice to our world. The ones who listen and agree with me are those who actually had fought in war.

    I pray, this 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001, be a great day of prayer and guidance from all religious leaders telling our country and our world that this war needs to end now. Bring healing to our men and women who have and are fighting there so that they can find peace in their hearts.

    May our country, and our leaders turn back to God seeking the peace and justice God intends for us to live.

    1. Thank you, Father Michael. Your words ring with the authentic voice of one who has been converted to the compassion & peace of God. Blessings on you for speaking out this way.
      Far too many of our Catholic clergy as well as lay leaders are still clinging to the tradition of the “Just War theory” as if it alone is the official & sanctioned position of our community of faith.
      You make it so very clear that now in our time of history, we must break the conspiracy of silence around war and speak out clearly with the wisdom of the Nonviolent Gospel of Jesus which has been trumped for far too long with the savagery & barbarism of retaliation when we are attacked.
      Your conviction in this statement comes from a conscience which has seen the real tragic effects of this myth of “redemptive violence” which has taken hold of Christianity since the days of Constantine & Saint Augustine, both of whom promoted what is essentially a pagan rationalization for killing (under the banner of self-defense) & thus breaking the 5th commandment: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
      Scripture teaches us that vengeance is not ours, but God’s. When will we realize that for over 17 centuries, we have got it wrong, and that only God is in charge of life & death? Thus capital punishment, torture & all forms of violence, whether personal or state sanctioned violence are morally & ethically wrong for a follower & disciple of Jesus Christ.
      Our Catholic hierarchy needs to address this question in the context of the 20 centuries which have now passed and issue a contemporary statement which will guide our people into the ways of peace which God has willed & for which Jesus died & rose again. His first greetings to the disciples after the resurrection all indicate that His suffering, death & resurrection is now the definitive source of our collective peace & reconciliationwith all of creation.

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