By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service
CLEVELAND (CNS) — More than 100 priests and deacons have encouraged fellow clergymen to help ease the fear and uncertainty people may hold over possible violence stemming from the presidential election outcome.
In a brief statement released Oct. 29 by Pax Christi USA, 102 priests and deacons said Catholics are called to be peacemakers, as Jesus encouraged during the Sermon on the Mount as told in the Gospel from Matthew that will be read at Masses Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the weekend leading up to Election Day.
“We invite our brother priests and deacons to use the time between now and Election Day to address people’s anxiety and tension by cultivating our commitment to the common good, respect for individual conscience, belief in the promise of nonviolence, and trust in the democratic process,” the statement said.
One of the signers, Father Bob Cushing, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Waycross, Georgia, told Catholic News Service, it is the role of Catholics to heed Jesus’ words.
“We’re concerned that there’s going to be some violence, and if there is some violence we want to make sure there are people who are interested in nonviolent responses,” Father Cushing said. “Knowing a lot of the church community is interested in nonviolence, we’re trying to get them to affirm that they will respond as peacemakers.”
Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of Pax Christi USA, said the Catholic peace organization offered to distribute a statement of reassurance at a time when threats of violence over election results have been maJde.
“We’re not probably going to know the results on Election Day and with the rhetoric that has taken place all through the election season, it has people on edge,” Zokovitch said. “We’re looking to safeguard the process for everybody that’s going to make sure the results are respected.”
The priests and deacons in their message suggested that reassurances can be offered in homilies, prayers of the faithful and during announcements at Masses “that inspire our communities to protect one another’s right to vote without impediment or intimidation, to resist rhetoric that seeks to sow division and confusion, and to safeguard the integrity of the process.”
The statement added, “In these days of uncertainty and tension, may we embrace that vocation and practice that peace which is rooted in justice.