The Catholic University Of America

Office of the President

Washington, D.C. 20064

 March 20, 2003





In the days ahead, much of our attention and conversations will be focused upon the subject of war.  Especially within a university setting, where intellectual inquiry and the free exchange of ideas are the “stuff” of our daily lives, those conversations will reflect not only the activity of our minds but also the content of our hearts.  There will be those among us who support the use of military force in Iraq and those who oppose it in any form.  There will be those among us whose opinions and decisions in this matter are fixed and those who are still developing a point of view.  There will be those among our university community or our families and friends who will be called to active duty and those who, remaining behind on our shores, will witness the tragedy that war always is, only through the eyes and experiences of others.


Whatever thoughts and feelings might arise in our minds and hearts during this difficult and uncertain time in human history, our faith in God must remain the source of our courage and strength and unity.  May that faith, so often tested and deepened in adversity, carry us forward together to face the challenges that lie ahead.  May God, the source of all wisdom, be present to our leaders, moving them to seek peace in our world.  May God, the source of all good, be present to our women and men in uniform, keeping them safe in the midst of conflict.  May God, the source of all love, be present to all who are unsettled and afraid --- here at home and in places where war is waged --- replacing their anxieties with a profound sense of his abiding care.


And may all of us, whatever opinions and convictions we may hold, stand together on the common ground of a shared humanity, graced by God, where life is always preferred to death; freedom always preferred to slavery; justice always preferred to oppression; compassion always preferred to hatred and hardness of heart; light always preferred to darkness; truth always preferred to falsehood; and peace always preferred to war.  And, although we know that such preferences always carry with them a price, may we meet the sacrifices required of us at this time with courage and a generosity of spirit always inspired by “the message of the cross which is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1: 18).” 



Very Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M.




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To read the President’s March 18 message on emergency preparedness, visit