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Br. Steve Herro's Blog


Br. Steve HerroBr. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. For several years, he headed the justice and peace ministry of St. Norbert Abbey and presently serves as Manager of Mission and Ministry, Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, VA. His current ministry connects him to national Catholic issues and Church ministers throughout the country.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of neither of the organizations, St. Norbert Abbey nor Catholic Charities USA, nor of any of the organizations' members.

January 1, 2015
Entry #35: "It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue"

by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

2014 was a tough year for people attempting to uphold the life and dignity of the human person and nonviolent peacemaking on the world scene. We witnessed a global humanitarian crisis facing an estimated 60,000 children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala; an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 6,800 people in West African countries; the slaying by terrorists of more than 140 people in a Pakistani school; the summer deaths of more than 3,000 non-combatant Israelis and Palestinians; and the mass murder of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians by ISIS. But in a turn of events of which perhaps the most recent comparison is the end of apartheid in South Africa, we also witnessed the renewal of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, a gesture that counteracted more than 50 years of hostilities between the two neighbors.

It was quickly revealed how influential the Vatican was in the breakthrough; see Crux: Covering All Things Catholic, "Pope Francis helped broker the restoration of US-Cuban relations"; TIME, "How Pope Francis Helped Broker Cuba Deal"; and USA Today, "Pope Francis played key role in U.S.-Cuba deal." The Holy See and Pope Francis do seem to draw the media more quickly than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), but let it be known that the USCCB has been advocating for improved relations with Cuba since at least 1989. If you don’t believe me, take a look at backgrounders and letters by the Conference and its Bishop Chairs on the Bishops' website. The listing includes Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, December 17, 2014, statement in support of the breakthrough; he said in part:

"We share the joy of the family of Alan Gross and of all Americans upon hearing the news of his release from over five years of custody in Cuba, as well as the humanitarian release of other prisoners. We are also encouraged by today’s announcement by the Administration of important actions that will foster dialogue, reconciliation, trade, cooperation and contact between our respective nations and citizens."

One should not be surprised over the Vatican and U.S. magisterium’s assistance and support of this historic breakthrough. It was Pope Francis himself who said ("Meeting with Brazil’s Leaders of Society," July 27, 2013):

"When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. The only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, is via the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice. This open spirit, without prejudice, I would describe as "social humility", which is what favors dialogue. Only in this way can understanding grow between cultures and religions, mutual esteem without needless preconceptions, in a climate that is respectful of the rights of everyone. Today, either we take the risk of dialogue, we risk the culture of encounter, or we all fall; this is the path that will bear fruit."

The Holy Father would later proclaim in his "Address to Students and Teachers from the Seibu Gakuen Bunri Junior High School of Saitama, Tokyo" (August 21, 2013):

"This dialogue is what creates peace. It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue All the wars, all the strife, all the unsolved problems over which we clash are due to a lack of dialogue. When there is a problem, talk: this makes peace."

Whether we are considering relations with Cuba, Iran, North Korean, Russia, or Syria, I suggest that our State Department would benefit from the word and example of the Pope Francis and the USCCB: "Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue."


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