Forgo Violent Rhetoric, Break Cycle of Violence With Iran

Springfield Dominican Sister Marcelline Koch signed statement, calls for de-escalation of tensions with Iran

Springfield, Ill.—Promoters of Justice for Dominican Sisters and Brothers nationwide call upon the U.S. Government to forgo “violent rhetoric and preparations for retaliatory attacks” against Iran. A statement released yesterday, on the Feast of Epiphany, says it is “critical that the circle of violence be broken and alternative and peaceful pathways to resolving the conflict be found.”

The January 3 assassination in Baghdad of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani by the US has destabilized US relationships with Iran and Iraq and led to the deployment of 3,000 additional US troops to the region.

Read the Statement here.

Sister Marcelline Koch, who is the justice promoter for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield and the co-promoter of justice for Dominicans in North America, is a signatory to the statement, which will be sent to President Trump and other government officials.

The full statement, released under the aegis of the Iraq Coordinating Committee, a subcommittee of the Dominicans’ national justice organization, is here.

Dominicans in the United States feel a special responsibility for speaking out on issues of justice involving the Middle East because of their long and warm relationship with Dominicans who serve in the region. US Dominicans have participated in delegations to Iraq, including Springfield Dominican Sisters Marcelline Koch, Maira Berry, and Beth Murphy, the Springfield Dominicans’ communications director. Sister Maira is a chaplain at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.

Many Iraqi Dominicans have reciprocated with visits to the United States, and ties between members of the Order of Preachers in both nations remain strong.

The first Iraqi Dominican Sisters to live and minister in the U.S. joined the Springfield Dominican Sisters in April 2002, just months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Sister Marcelline was on the US Dominican delegation in 2015.

“In recent conversation with our Iraqi Dominican sisters and brothers we hear their weariness and concern about the fate of their country, caught, once again—or shall we say still—in the complications of geopolitics,” Sister Marcelline said. “We are speaking out of our concern for them and for the peace of the whole world."

“We echo the words of the patriarch of the Catholic Chaldean Church, Louis Sako, who said Iraq should not be ‘transformed into a place where scores are settled, rather than being a sovereign nation, capable of protecting its own land, its own wealth, its own citizens.’ He implores exercise of ‘moderation, to demonstrate wisdom, to act reasonably and to sit down at the negotiating table to dialogue and seek understanding so that this country might be spared unimaginable consequences.’ May all the parties involved in this conflict heed his wisdom,” Sister Marcelline said.

Iraqi Dominican Sister Habiba Benham in displaced persons camp, 2016.

The statement from the Dominican concludes with a line from Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace Message, that “Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Mother of all the peoples of the earth, accompany and sustain us at every step of our journey of reconciliation.”

The Dominican Sisters of Springfield are part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers. For more than 800 years, Dominicans have preached the Gospel in word and deed. The Springfield Dominicans were established in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1873 and relocated to Springfield in 1893. Today, thousands of Dominican sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world.

Learn more about how you can join the sisters in their mission For the Life of the World.

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