When the war is over...?

28 July 2017

 This letter was sent to all the main secular and religious News Papers and some Periodicals. Perhaps some will print it. The war against Islamic State has moved from front page Media coverage at present, so perhaps not. However, it is still very relevant and applies equally to the terrible conflict and the suffering of the people in Yemen and other areas.

  When the war is over...?

Dear Reader
As the war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq seems to be coming to some sort of ending many people are thinking seriously about the way ahead for the future. Personally, watching on TV the horrific scenes my heart cries out ‘how can these people ever get over this; how can they erase the horrors they have witnessed, how can they forgive their oppressors?’

My only answer to these questions is prayer and I call on all peoples around the world who believe in the power of prayer to unite in praying intensely for those people grieving the loss of parents, children, wider family members, friends, homes, the towns, cities, sacred monuments, hospitals, schools and other institutions that formed their world.

Let us pray especially, for a spirit of unity, reconciliation and forgiveness to develop among the various Muslim denominations. I know very little about their historic past but I have some understanding that much of the present conflict is rooted in the divisions between the Shia and Sunni sects of the Muslim world. Let us all pray to the ‘Almighty One’ whether we name Him Allah or God, for he created us in love with that precious but dangerous gift of ‘freedom of choice.’ My prayer is that the ‘Almighty One’ will raise up among our Muslim brethren inspirational, charismatic leaders to enable, empower, and inspire a lasting peace, based on love, understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation.

In writing thus, I am not standing on any high moral ground. As a Christian I am deeply aware that none of our world’s faith groups have ‘clean hands.’ Over many centuries we have all collectively committed horrendous crimes in the name of God. Here in this small city of Derby where I live, for example, we remember with reverence four people who died here for their faith during the period called ‘The Reformation’ in the 16th Century: a blind Protestant woman burnt at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary and three Catholic priests hung, drawn and quartered in Elizabethan times. No, there are no ‘clean hands,’ we all need to repent and pray earnestly for an enlightened future, built on love, justice, peace, and the ability to respect and value difference and variety.

As we look in wonder and awe at the extravagant beauty, the amazing variety, and the incredible number of different species in our natural world, may we learn to love, respect, appreciate and value the differences and variety in peoples, in their faith, their language, their colour, appearance and customs. May we learn to live and let live.

Sr. Camilla
Sister of Mercy