Guest Op-Ed: On the events unfolding in the Middle East

By Cardinal Sean O’Malley

     The sad and tragic historical truth is that the people of the Middle East have long suffered the scars and burdens of war.  Even in this historical perspective, the massive military assault by Hamas on the State of Israel and its citizens stands as one of the worst moments in this long history.  This act of aggression requires a clear condemnation in human, moral and legal terms. Both the purpose of the attack and its barbaric methods are devoid of moral or legal justification.  There is no room for moral ambiguity on this issue. Resisting such terrorism and aggression is the moral duty of states to be carried out within moral limits.

     While such moral judgement is necessary at this time, my primary focus as a Catholic bishop is one of prayer, condolence and sympathy for those who have lost parents, spouses and children during this past week. These sentiments extend also to the Palestinian civilian community and families in this conflict, for death is never confined to one side in war.

     The United States is home to the largest Jewish community outside of Israel and many members of that community live in the Archdiocese of Boston. To them I offer solidarity and support in the midst of your suffering and sorrow.

     As is his custom in addressing war and conflict, Pope Francis has affirmed the right of states and people to defend themselves while observing moral limits, and also urging every effort possible to move from conflict to its just resolution. As a step in that process I echo the Holy Father’s request that the hostages be released. I join the Holy Father in his pastoral care for all in war and his prayer for a just peace.

            Sean P. O’Malley is an American cardinal of the Catholic Church serving as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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