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God's gift of Reconciliation and Peace

God's gift of Reconciliation and Peace

 An Appeal of the Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia and Eritea

 29 April 1999

  1."To all of you grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 1:7) As spiritual fathers of the church we make our own this greetings of the apostle Paul, which reflects the deep aspiration of our hearts. A year ago, at the outbreak of military hostilities between our two sister countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea, our warning and our appeal had been: "Nothing is lost with peace. Everything can be lost with war."

 2.But now the tragic consequences of the refusal of God' gift of peace are before the eyes of all people and weigh, heavily on our hearts: The plight of families broken up because of forced displacement from their homes and their villages to avoid the areas of fighting; children and civilian people killed by shelling and bombing; people deported or forced to leave their work and residence because of the accident of their place of birth; others detained in various ways.    

3.The supreme sacrifice of large numbers of young men and women fallen in battle and the many wounded whose lives remain forever scared are particularly present before us, a reminder of the futility of war. God desires that all his children should enjoy to the full their lives and their youth. The silence of the dead now invokes the blessing of peace for the living.    

4.The sufferings and pains brought about by violent conflicts show that the path of war is neither wise nor, useful for our countries, but only a source of sorrow and destruction stifling the legitimate expectations for development and for a better existence of our poverty-stricken peoples.    

5.When the Holy Father John Paul II addressed us Bishops personally during our meeting in Rome on April 27 he said: "War brings nothing but tragedy and despair, reaping innocent victims as it destroyes lives and homes, families and peoples. I repeat with urgency what I have said so many times in the past: every alternative to war must be pursued."    

6.Deeply concerned about the present conflict we ask ourselves: How do we break the vicious cycle of violence that causes so much suffering? How do we heal the wounds opened by war and build again the fraternal ties that were binding our peoples?    

    7.
       
    A culture of peace and of human rights needs to replace a culture of death and of violence. This is the answer to be pursued.
       
    8.
       
    Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is Himself the way to peace and God our Father's gift of peace to the human family. The search for peace is found when prayer to God brings about a change of heart leading to conversion and to helping us to become instrument of peace. We are convinced that it is the duty of all citizens to form themselves to peace; to respect political, social cultural and religious pluralism; to favour dialogue and solidarity at the national and global levels. It is impossible for peace to exist without first having virtue to flourish.
       
    9.
       
    The challenge facing our societies is, therefore, resuming the pilgrimage of peace on the part of every individual and of our Governments through an attitude of reconciliation and a courageous public commitment to a future of peace.
       
    10.
       
    Obstacles on the way to peace must be removed with determination and sincerity. Jesus said: "Happy are those who work for peace: God will call them his children!" (Mt 5:9) In our effort to be numbered among God's children, there is an urgent call to avoid an exacerbated exaltation of nationalisms; to lower all barriers preventing the full participation of all citizens in the public life of the State, to prevent emotional and inaccurate reporting by the media with the temptation of projecting wrong images of the adversary; to contain the pride that leads to intransigence and precipitated decisions that may hurt the people and mortgage the future - all these obstacles must be overcome.
       
    11.
       
    Alternative ways of war and destruction must be found. As the catechism of the Catholic church states: "Respect for the development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war and is not limited to maintaining the balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is "the tranquillity of order." Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity." (n. 2304)
       
    12.
       
    The several years of peace and collaboration at the end of the struggle for independence and democracy set a model of friendly relations to which return for the pursuit of social progress in our respective countries, marked by common history and culture, and in the whole region of the Horn of Africa.
       
    13.
       
    The approaching New Millennium calls for a new style of leadership and political and economic models in the African continent where war and oppression should no longer dominate the lives and destiny of our peoples. It becomes an important responsibility to set an example for a better African future of peaceful coexistence, regional cooperation and an open support for human rights.
       
    14.
       
    The approaching New Millennium calls for a new style of leadership and political and economic models in the African continent where war and oppression should no longer dominate the lives and destiny of our peoples. It becomes an important responsibility to set an example for a better African future of peaceful coexistence, regional cooperation and an open support for human rights.
       
    15.
       
    Dialogue between old friends, who directly exchange views and proposals, is the main road towards dissipating misunderstandings, developing mutual trust, discussing with creative and constructive determination the concrete measures that eliminate the root causes of conflict, and pursuing together a regional plan of peaceful development.
       
    16.
       
    The gift of peace, however, is from above and our heavenly Father will grant it to his children asking for it. To our parish communities, our religious men and women, to all persons of good will in our countries we ask to knock with persevering insistence at the door of Heaven and invoke from their heart the gift of peace. In particular, we share with our fellow Christians of the Venerable Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches and of other Christian denominations, with the members of the Muslim Community and of other faiths a sense of trust in God and together with them we humbly pray for the blessings of peace that will brighten the future of our countries and guarantee that friendship and collaboration which the whole African continent longs for with great expectation for its complete liberation.
           
    "May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant PEACE, LOVE and FAITH to all the brothers." (Eph. 6:23)
       
    Signatories:
       
    His Eminence Cardinal Paulos Tzadua  
    Rt. Rev. Lorenzo Ceresoli  
    Rt. Rev. Kidanemariam Teklehaimanot  
    Rt. Rev. Domenico Marinozzi  
    Rt. Rev. Luca Milesi  
    Rt. Rev. Tesfamariam Bedho  
    Rt. Rev. Weldetensae Weldeghiorghis  
    Rt. Rev. Yohannes Woldeghiorgis  
    Rt. Rev. Leonardus Dobbelaar  
    Rt. Rev. Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel  
    Very Rev. Fr. Theo Van Ruyven  
           
    A copy of the Appeal of the Bishops was sent by Vatican Embassy to all the Embassies of Ethiopia accredited to the Holy See, as well as to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the General Secretary of the Organisation of African Unity. An Amharic version of the Appeal has been circulated to the parish priests so that they may read it to the faithful in the churches. It appeared in Amharic on one of the private papers last week, and will be published in next month's Fikrena Selaam.
           
    29 April 1999