Tuesday, October 10, 2006

St. Francis

In his most recent On the Road to Peace column for National Catholic Reporter, John Dear S.J.writes of St. Francis:
In 1219, he embarked on a year-long pilgrimage of nonviolence -- from Italy to Northern Africa -- right into the war zone. And there, at great peril, he secured a meeting with the sultan, Melek-el-Kamel, the leading Muslim of his time. He met, too, with the sultan's counterpart, the Christian general Cardinal Pelagius. Put a stop to the killing, he urged them both.

The cardinal dismissed Francis out of hand The campaign, after all, was being conducted in Jesus' name, and under his sign and blessing. Interfere with that and one interferes with heaven's very purpose. For the purpose of heaven and the state are one, so we're told.

Francis would have none of it. Likewise, we too must dismiss such blasphemy out of hand. There is no theological justification for the bombing of Iraq, the spending of billions on weapons of mass destruction, the death penalty, our corporate greed or any such violence.

The sultan received Francis with an altogether different attitude. The sultan, historians say, was impressed by this mendicant friar -- such exemplary kindness and gentleness. "If all Christians are like this," said the sultan, "I would not hesitate to become one."

You can read the entire column here.