Call for cease-fire in Gaza


By Barb Arland-Fye

Songwriter Bob Dylan asked in “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “… how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? … how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” We, the people of God, who espouse the human dignity of every person on Earth, must ask ourselves that question regarding the war in Gaza.

More than 34,000 people have died in Gaza since the war began Oct. 7. Tens of thousands more have been injured. The survivors are suffering because of lack of food, shelter, healthcare, basic sanitation, constant displacement, the incessant noise of drones and the rubble of destroyed homes and businesses.

In a video clip of a May 13 speech on Israel’s Memorial Day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused on the destruction of Hamas, which killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in the attack against Israel. Hamas took 250 hostages. It still holds about 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30, the Associated Press reports (May 13) and continues its attacks against Israel.


“We are determined to be victorious,” Netanyahu said. “A victory, with God’s help, will ensure our existence and our future” (“The Times and the Sunday Times,” May 13). What does victory look like with God’s help? How many more deaths of civilians will it take to defeat Hamas?

We must address that question because our country is a longtime ally of Israel. When do we step in and say, “Too many people have died?” Some 2,500 Catholic bishops, priests, women religious, academics, laypeople and Catholic groups have called for a cease-fire in Gaza in a letter to President Joe Biden and other world leaders, OSV News reported May 8. They cited calls from Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a cease-fire in the region.

Hamas’ attack, “which initiated this war must be condemned,” reads a USCCB statement published Oct. 23. “We renew the call for the release of hostages and protection of civilian populations. At the same time, we affirm continued efforts to allow humanitarian access, including corridors for those seeking safety, and urge Congress to provide support for relief efforts. As Pope Francis reminds the world, ‘War is always a defeat; it is a destruction of human fraternity.’”

During a May 10-11 Vatican conference on promoting peace, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, described war as an assault on the dignity of both sides. “We can safely say that all wars, by the mere fact that they contradict human dignity itself, are dynamics not intended by their nature to solve problems, but rather to exacerbate them,” he said (OSV News).

In an editorial for Inkstick, Eli McCarthy, a professor of Justice and Peace Studies at Georgetown University, called for a “just peace approach” to the war in Gaza, just three weeks after Hamas’ attack on Israel. McCarthy described this approach as “a framework or process of cooperation for the common good, the prevention of violence, and a focus on the transformation of conflict. The approach is rooted in just relationships and societal systems that respect the dignity of all people and the earth.”

The “action-guiding norms” of the just-peace approach involve “engaging conflict constructively, breaking cycles of violence, and building sustainable peace.” The just-peace approach requires patience, humility and acknowledgement of harm. “Previous examples of such steps include both the African National Congress and South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk acknowledging responsibility for harm in the 1990’s during apartheid.” Read the editorial ( for its insights.

For additional insights on peacemaking, visit the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative website ( This organization is a project of Pax Christi International and affirms “the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church.”

Bishop Robert Barron’s Gospel Reflection for May 13 also provides us with guidance, as we reflect on our call to imitate Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. At the time of Pentecost, Christ’s disciples reacted in fear when he arrived in their midst. “And no wonder: they had abandoned him,” Bishop Barron said. “In the face of this fear, Jesus does two simple things. First, he shows his wounds. Second, he offers his peace.” Both of these actions are important, one to remind them of the sins that put an end to his life and the second to demonstrate that “Jesus returns not with vengeance, not with a renewal of violence … rather, the violence brought against him is met with peace.”

Now, advocate for a cease-fire in Gaza by contacting President Biden, (, Senators Joni Ernst, (, and Charles Grassley, (, and your House representatives, ( We cannot allow our answer to questions of human suffering to go blowin’ in the wind.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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