Neither retaliation or provocation can justify slaughter: Australian Maronite nun

Asking "how will I stand on my day of reckoning?", an Australian-born Maronite sister who has chosen to stay in Lebanon in the midst of fighting instead of being evacuated, has condemned the killing of civilians.

The Catholic Weekly reports that Sr Lilli Achmar, a Maronite nun living in Lebanon, has declined the chance to flee the country, hoping instead for a peaceful outcome.

"Even the greatest justice in politics cannot justify the slaughter of a whole family: mother, father and nine children in one swipe as they run in the hope of finding a safe place," she said of the situation in the Middle East.

"Be I Catholic, Muslim or Jew, be it in retaliation or in provocation, how will I stand before my God on the day of reckoning?"

Born and raised in Sydney, Sr Lilli has for the last few years taught at a school in the village of Antelias, a short drive from the capital Beirut.

"I miss my family in Australia and I crave to see my nieces and nephews so much," Sr Lilli said.

"I could have been evacuated but I said 'No' because life is so much more than being safe.

She added: "It is depressing seeing people wandering in our neighbourhood finding themselves sheltering in public schools.

Despite the human suffering going on around her, Sr Lilli says "we still manage to believe in something called the will of God".

"What is sadly frightening is how everyone claims to have the truth," she said.

"The Israelis really believe it's God's will that they occupy the Palestinian territory.

"And Hezbollah really believe it's God's will that they claim back the land of their Arab brothers.

"And somewhere in that honest search for God's will, an evil force called politics cons even those who are pacifists among us into justifying the wasting of human life."

Meanwhile, calling on the Australian people to pray for peace on Middle East Peace Sunday this weekend, Caritas director, Jack de Groot, has described the deteriorating situation in the Middle East as a "massive humanitarian emergency".

"We are calling on the Australian Catholic community and all Australians, to join together and pray for peace on August 13."

Mr de Groot said: "We pray that the conflict will end soon so that we can then begin the long and difficult task of rebuilding not just the infrastructure destroyed but the lives of those who have been so dramatically affected."

Sydney nun: why I won't abandon Lebanon (Catholic Weekly, 13/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia
Caritas Middle East Crisis Appeal

Aid agencies call on PM to push for Middle East ceasefire (CathNews, 7/8/06)
Unity and hope amid chaos in Lebanon (CathNews, 2/8/06)
Canberra Christian leaders slam Govt over "cowardly" silence on Middle East (CathNews, 1/8/06)
Benedict calls for miracle as Qana toll reaches 54 (CathNews 31/7/06)
Asian and African migrants "abandoned" in Lebanon, Vatican says (CathNews 27/7/06)
Students taking lead for Middle East peace (CathNews 26/7/06)
Lebanese Maronite bishops plea for UN help (CathNews 25/7/06)
Caritas Lebanon slams milk factory attack (CathNews 21/7/06)
Advertise Lebanon evacuation plans, stranded priest tells Govt (CathNews 20/7/06)

11 Aug 2006