Sunday, July 23, 2006

Praying for peace in West Asia

The Holy Father has asked for prayers for peace in the Middle East especially this weekend. This piece in the Scranton Times is about an American priest of Lebanese descent, a former Vatican diplomat, who was giving a retreat in Lebanon when the conflict broke out.
Monsignor John A. Esseff turns off the television and the telephones to conduct a retreat.

So after two weeks of contemplative, isolated retreats in his ancestral home of Lebanon, the 78-year-old priest emerged refreshed on Sunday. He was also oblivious to the violence crippling the country.

At the retreat house in Bcharre, about 80 miles north of Beirut, a brief scan of Arab television sent him right back to his knees — and thrust back in time. For the second time in 20 years, Monsignor Esseff would have to flee Lebanon.
“I’m as informed as anyone can be, and I think I have to cry out to God,” he said, his eyes welling with tears. “I just don’t weep for Christians. I just don’t weep for Muslims.

“I just weep for what we do.”
[The photograph is from the New York Times --- coffins of those killed being readied for a mass burial]

:: Update :: [Visit the following site at your own risk: From Israel to Lebanon. Link via a post at Antioch Abouna, linked from Don Jim. He also provides links to a variety of Lebanese bloggers who give their view from the ground.]

:: Update :: [Air India will airlift Indian nationals trapped in Lebanon out of Cyprus. [The 1991 airlift of Indians out of Kuwait was one of the largest civilian airlifts since WWII, I believe]

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