North Coast Voices: Prayers for peace, hope for quick end
March 21, 2003
A feeling of sadness permeated the county's synagogues, churches and mosques as the war began against Iraq.
Some of the faithful felt the war was regrettable, but necessary; others said more diplomacy and weapons inspections could have prevented the death and destruction that now seem inevitable.
During Mass at Saint Sebastian's Catholic Church in Sebastopol, the morning reading included a prayer, "for peace in the world, especially for peace, we pray, oh Lord."
The signboard at St. Eugene's Cathedral in Santa Rosa read, "Fast and Pray for Peace."
A member of the Baha'i faith, which incorporates teachings of the major world religions, offered a ray of hope.
"Baha'is believe America will evolve through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual leadership, a champion of justice and unity," said Sonia Rustad of Santa Rosa.
Bishop Daniel Walsh of the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese called for a continuation of patience, prayer and faith.
"We worked and prayed and hoped that war would be avoided. Our task now is to work and pray and hope that war's deadly consequences will be limited," said Walsh, in a prepared statement.
Charlotte Ellis of Santa Rosa was among the parishioners who came at noon to St. Eugene's to pray and take communion. She said she opposed the war.
"I have grandchildren -- little boys whom I love. Somewhere in Iraq, there's a grandmother who loves her grandchildren. If it was up to ordinary people, there wouldn't be a war," she said. "But certain people get in power, and they want war."
Steven Dahl, who attends the Greek Orthodox Protection of the Holy Virgin Church in Santa Rosa, said he thought the United States had no choice but to fight.
"The attacks of 9/11 have brought a paradigm shift. U.S. civilians are now military targets and it's a non-state that's fighting us," Dahl said.
But for Ed Flowers, a Quaker and a member of Appleseed Meeting in Sebastopol, there is never a reason to go to war.
"War begets war. It doesn't resolve anything," Flowers said. "American needs to find another way to address its problems and perceived problems."
The Rev. Peter Munson, pastor of the Occidental Community Church in Occidental, urged prayers for peace, for U.S. troops and for the Iraqi people.
"We all feel sad it's come to this," Munson said. "But I don't think it's President Bush's fault, it's Saddam Hussein's fault. Even today he's shooting missiles, missiles he wasn't supposed to have."
-- Carol Benfell
©Copyright 2003, The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA, USA)
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