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Interfaith plea for peace

Prayers for peace came in many languages and faith traditions Nov. 19, but the language that may have expressed it best was universal. 

During the closing prayers of the Interfaith Voices for Peace at Holy Name of Jesus Church, Rabbi Edward Cohn of Temple Sinai and Imam Rafeeq Numan of Masjid Ar-Rahim embraced as they read a passage asking for peace.

“Brothers and sisters, I have the audacity to believe peace is possible,” said Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, the featured speaker at the interfaith prayer gathering. “There is a call for peace and for the people of God to lead the charge as peaceable people and peacemakers. The solution belongs to the entire community.”

Understanding needed

Father Nutt, director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana, said tension between ethnic and religious groups and even countries begins with a lack of basic understanding.

“Most of our fear, prejudices and even our hatreds come from our ignorance – our not knowing those who are different from ourselves,” Father Nutt said.

“We fear that which is unknown and thus not understood. This calls for a genuine and lasting dialogue, to rethink the values of cultural diversity and to bridge cultural and religious barriers as well to break stereotypes and to turn people away from violence.”


At its most basic level, Father Nutt said, peacemaking starts in the home and in school.

“Adults must model for children and youth what it means to live in peace,” he said. “Show them there are other ways to solve disputes besides engaging in violence.”

At a national level, governments can be pressured by citizens to exhaust peaceful options before resorting to war, he said. Faith communities can reach out to gang members and “give them soul food to meet their needs and help them redirect their lives” he said.

“Don’t be afraid to challenge their behavior and show them ways to practice peace,” Father Nutt said.

The service was coordinated by the Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, headed by Father Emile “Buddy” Noel, parochial vicar of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mandeville.

Several prayers were recited or chanted by local Hindus, Native Americans, Baha’i, Sikh, Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, Orthodox and Jews. The Notre Dame Seminary Schola chanted in Latin, “God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.”

Archbishop Gregory Aymond said he was asked recently if he could name all the areas of the world experiencing war or the threat of war.

“I tried and I could not,” he said. “We live in an extraordinary time, where there is an incredible amount of warfare and violence surrounding us. We see it day after day in the news, so much so that we may become numb or immune to it. Here in Greater New Orleans, we see murder and violence increasing.

“We come together as people of faith, united as one family, asking God to help us be instruments of peace and so that together we can make a difference in the world and bring about the dream of God that we can be sisters and brothers living in peace.”

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Catholic World News