Even if we disagree with him, president deserves our prayers - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Even if we disagree with him, president deserves our prayers

Before and after the event, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States has been the talk of the town this week.

On Monday evening at Sacred Heart Cathedral, we hosted an interfaith prayer service at which the hundreds in attendance prayed for God’s blessings on Mr. Obama and on all women and men who serve the public in elected offices.

We heard readings from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, the Quran and the writings of Susan B. Anthony and Coretta King. The common element in the readings was a concern for justice and right relationships — all based on the fact that we are all children of the God whose will it is that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

From my vantage point in the assembly, it was clear that those in attendance listened carefully and respectfully to the readings. To find a truth that spoke to their hearts. To understand better what moves and inspires our sisters and brothers of different faith traditions. To explore and rest in the elements common to the traditions represented in the assembly. I mean values like a thirst for justice, a concern that hospitality be extended to the alien, that aid be offered to those in need.

Our readers, I think, highlighted in the flesh the values conveyed in the readings. Republican Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, Democratic Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, Rabbi Lawrence Kotok, Baptist minister the Rev. James Cherry and Imam Muhammad Shafiq conveyed with eloquence the deep meaning of the several readings.

To me, the experience was a wonderful reminder that for all of the diversity — ethnic, political, racial, religious — represented in our cathedral that night, those who were there hold in common deep and lasting values. And, no less important, they have demonstrated the capacity to explore and discuss respectfully important matters in which we differ.

We need such strength to continue our commitment in the deeply rewarding, but always challenging, work of deepening ecumenical and interfaith understanding and relationships.

No less do we need that kind of strength as we face the many and difficult challenges that we face on the local, county, state, national and international levels. There will be no silver bullets or quick fixes that will solve those problems. The solutions will come from honest efforts by all to seek and serve the common good, from a willingness to act from principle rather than political expediency or financial gain, from a willingness on the part of all citizens to participate in civic affairs and the political process, from a commitment by all to build on what we hold in common, from a disposition that allows us to express our differences in ways that open new possibilities rather than destroy.

President Obama, at the inauguration, took on a massive set of responsibilities. Whether we agree with all of his positions or not — and, if we disagree with him, we can make that known — he deserves our prayers and all of the support that we can offer.

At this crucial moment in the history of our nation I ask: What is your prayer for the United States of America? What is your prayer for President Obama? What blessings do you ask for yourself?

Peace to all.

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