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Peace Pilgrimage Focuses on Middle East Crisis

22 May 2002 – A day of prayer for peace in the Middle East was held on 16 May at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio. Brother David Carroll, F.S.C., Assistant to the Secretary General of CNEWA, gave presentations on the Holy Land in crisis.

The thrust of his talks was the flight of many Christians from the area, based on an article, “Going West,” that appeared in the May-June issue of CNEWA WORLD. He related how people from the area are leaving for Europe, Australia and the United States in search of better jobs and educational opportunities. Those left behind, he said, are the poor and uneducated.

Arab leaders, Brother David said, fear the area, once home to Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, will lose its cultural diversity. The Christian presence added a balanced view to the region, he told his audience.

Tourism, which is the main industry of the Holy Land, has virtually ceased with the escalation of hostilities, drying up a vital source of income for the people. Hotels, restaurants and shops are empty, he said.

Many members of the audience are Maronite and Melkite Catholics, Brother David reported, and a main concern of theirs is that the churches of the West are ignoring the Eastern churches. A concerted effort must be made to increase understanding among the churches. Similarities must be stressed.

Brother David is a member of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission of the Archdiocese of New York and of the Muslim-Roman Catholic national dialogue sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In these posts, he has worked closely with the churches of the East as well as leaders of Islam and Judaism.

Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA is a special agency of the Vatican, providing support to the churches and peoples of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. CNEWA projects include needy child, seminarian and novice sponsorship programs; village redevelopment; health care and education and interfaith dialogue.