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Can Peace Be Achieved in the Middle East?

On July 18 Pope Francis took a direct approach to peacekeeping and personally telephoned both President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to ask them to seriously consider the cost of their continued conflict. The leader of the Catholic Church made an attempt to counsel the Middle East leaders away from violence and turn their concerns toward God in prayer.
According to the Catholic News Service Pope Francis urged Peres and Abbas to work for peace and that “that constant prayer was needed” (
Many peacekeeping advocates (including St. Francis of Assisi who travelled to the Middle East during the Fifth Crusade to consult with Sultan al-Kamil to bring an end to the fighting and violence) have worked to direct attention away from aggression, bloodshed, and fatalities. Some of these peacekeepers have even been endowed with a Nobel Peace prize, though war and strife continues.
Is Pope Francis correct in saying that there is a need for constant prayer? Have all the peacekeeping speeches, mediations, diplomatic summits and negotiations resulted in lasting peace in the Middle East? Are the victims of violence, persecuted Christians and innocent parties paying an awful price because people continue to look to one another to achieve peace and/or satisfaction rather than looking to God?
Scripture tells us repeatedly that peace comes from God above.
In Numbers 6:25-26, we read “the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
And in John 14:27, it is Jesus Christ himself who says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Peace is not a condition that comes naturally to humanity, it seems. We see that quite often there is little peace in families, between friends, neighbors, co-workers and of course, nations. Can peace be achieved by our efforts alone? Peace is a gift from God and to achieve such a state it may be necessary to always turn to Him for peace and an answer to our conflicts.
Pope Francis, in his usual non-lofty, gentle way has expressed once again a cut-to-the-chase answer to a lingering problem. Turn to God. Offer constant prayer. If Presidents Peres and Abbas turn their hearts to prayers for peace, would God not grant their request?

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