10 September 2013

Patriarchal Address on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin 2013

VENERABLE Brethren and members of the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham, greetings and Apostolic blessings on this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year of our Lord 2013. It is customary on this feast day to bless seeds and seedlings. These symbols of new life help us to remember to respect life as Mary did, bringing the Prince of Peace into the world. Now, though, the seeds of war are being sown after more than a decade of continuous global conflict. We speak, of course, of the pending military action in Syria planned by the United States of America. It is true that there exist just wars, the doctrine of which was first laid down by Saint Augustine. Yet, there is grave doubt as to the justice of this planned war. More troubling is that the American government seems determined to press for military action now without considering even the basic points of Just War Doctrine. A government, if it is to be legitimate, must exercise extreme diligence in such grave matters. As the government possesses information that the people do not, the government bears the majority of the responsibility. The burden of proof lies with the State to demonstrate that it is a just war rather than with those who oppose war to demonstrate that it is not a just war.

While there is much violence and strife in Syria at present, there appears to be no sufficient case made for American involvement in yet another regional conflict. Other nations around the world that have typically allied with America in military action have thus far refused to participate in the proposed Syrian campaign. Furthermore, have other means truly been exhausted? Where is the evidence that diplomacy has not worked? The mere fact that diplomatic efforts do not bear fruit according to one’s own timeframe does not itself justify warfare nor make warfare inevitable. War may only be just if it is truly a last resort. That is not the only condition for a just war, but it is an essential one and perhaps the most essential one.

The Christian population of Syria is approximately 10%, making is a small minority compared to the Muslims. Make no mistake that they are in danger. Prelates of the Church in Syria have already been victims of anti-Christian hate. If there is military involvement in Syria by the Western governments or the United States alone, there is good reason to believe that Christians in Syria will be in even more grave danger than they are now.

We call upon the American government to exercise extreme caution and diligently discern whether or not their planned military action in Syria is truly necessary. They must seek to find and exercise every possible alternative to war before initiating a war. A war in which all alternatives have not, within the bounds of human weakness, been exhausted is mal in se, and the faithful are right in opposing it. Remember always that one’s duty is first to Christ and His Holy Church. This is and always is above all duty to country.

Whatever the decision of the American government, we as Christians must bear witness to the truth of Christ and openly pray and work for peace. We must also pray especially for the safety of any military personnel sent into Syria, and that any who may die will not die in vain. Our increasingly secularized society has long since abandoned respect for life, and a society that does not respect life will not respect peace. The sword is taken not for justice but for vanity, for life has become cheap. Where is the respect for our fellow man? Where is our respect for life, regardless of national border? Let a renewal of the faith begin inside each of us. Let the spark of this faith grow into a flame that cannot be hid from others. Let the Passion of Christ on the Cross be shown to the world in part through our own passionate life in Christ!

We commend and thank each of you for your tireless and diligent service to Christ’s Holy Church in this year. The liturgical year drawing to a close was dedicated to Faith and Tradition. We now announce that the upcoming liturgical year will be the Year of Chivalry and Service. May the traditions of chivalry remind us that the sword may only be taken only as a last resort in defense of life and justice and with the ultimate goal of peace.

And may the blessing of Almighty God, Father, + Son, + and Holy + Ghost, come upon you and remain with you always. R. Amen.