Until he calls for a cease-fire, Biden will be at odds with a pontiff who rejects war as a tool for peace.
by Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv
in Religion News Service
On Oct. 22, President Joe Biden spoke to Pope Francis by phone about the crisis in Gaza. Biden told reporters: “The pope and I are on the same page. … The pope was, across the board, supportive of what we’re doing.”
We beg to differ. Pax Christi and other Catholic leaders have paid close attention to what Francis has said about war and war-making these past 10 years: his ceaseless calls for an end to the weapons industry and arms dealing; his assertion that there is no such thing as a just war; and his insistence that “charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.”
So no, President Biden. Your administration and Francis are not on the same page in providing military aid to the Israeli government as it bombs children in Gaza. Not on the same page when you position a U.S. aircraft carrier and extend military support to the Israeli army as it advances in a ground war that has displaced more than one million people. Not on the same page when you obstruct the application of international law to the oppression of Palestinians under the Israeli government’s occupation while championing it in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Francis has consistently rejected war as a fitting tool for building peace. The killing and hostage-taking, the vicious attacks on civilians, the continued siege of Gaza, the increasing violence in the West Bank and the occupation itself illustrate how violence begets violence.
This war did not start with the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 and it will not stop with more rounds of violence. Perhaps these latest horrors will convince the world that a concerted effort to address root causes toward a comprehensive just peace is needed, not more weapons and military aid.
Rooted in a deep belief in the dignity of every person and of our common home, a nonviolent process toward just peace would begin with the recognition that all Israelis and all Palestinians have a right to live with dignity in peace and freedom…