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pray for peace

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By Father Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

These have been some very challenging times. The pandemic has claimed more than 6 million lives around the world; more than a million in our own country. There have been more than 100,000 deaths due to the heroin epidemic; deaths that could have been avoided.

As a country, we have been polarized by rhetoric that at times is so divisive and disrespectful, it is embarrassing. Now, we could possibly be on the brink of a third world war.

These past two weeks we have watched with horror the ravages of war imposed on a free democracy by a heartless dictator. Innocent children have been killed, hospitals and schools have been destroyed by bombs and even a historic church has been desecrated by the violence of war.

More than 2 million people have been forced to leave their homes and their country. As the world has watched this destruction of a democracy and its people, a dictator has been allowed to control a false narrative, savagely kill innocent lives and attempt to justify it. We are forced to sit on the sidelines watching, waiting and hoping that all of this human destruction will stop sooner rather than later.

Despite this painful landscape, the free world has come together and is standing in solidarity with the people of the Ukraine. Countries throughout Europe are warmly welcoming Ukrainian refugees. Some neighboring countries are welcoming homeless families to stay with them. Thousands of people from around the world are sending money, supplies and prayers.

In our own country for the first time in a long time, we have seen bipartisan support to help and support our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. People from both sides of the aisle are urging the President to do more.

We must support the brave citizens of Ukraine who are speaking out against terror, violence and political oppression. We must urge the leaders of the free world to come together and forge a way to peace and safety for all Ukrainians.

It’s time for all of us to call for the recognition of the fundamental human rights of all persons to seek refuge and safety and to live free from violence and oppression, no matter what their nationalities, race, gender, sexual orientation or creed.

In all of my college courses since the war began, I’ve asked my students what they think? So many of them said they were beyond words. The violence, the mayhem and the suffering they saw firsthand was painfully overwhelming. Each student who spoke, spoke about the children and their senseless sufferings.

The image I carry with me is that of the eight-year-old boy separated from his parents carrying his stuffed animal, crying as he made his way to safety in a foreign country all alone.

Let us pray for a swift peace and an end to this horrific tyranny!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.