Listen to the news any day, any hour. You will find commentators, usually Republicans, who think that President Barack Obama needs to show more "muscle" in his conduct of foreign policy or act "more strongly" wherever -- you name the place -- or "regain America's leadership role in the world." Many critics wish he had kept at least some U.S. troops in Iraq, engaged to some degree in the civil war in Syria, and had "taken decisive action" (whatever that means) against Russia for annexing Crimea and supporting the Ukrainian separatists.
NCR Today: Resources for peace in Gaza; Rick Santorum; immigration issues; fired bishop of Toowoomba, Australia, writes memoir; and much more.
The Vatican representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council urged the Israeli military and fighters in the Gaza Strip to stop targeting civilian areas.
"As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms," Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said Wednesday during a special session of the council in Geneva.
NCR Today: Conflict continues in Israel, Palestine; U.S. Senator to deliver policy address at CUA; Texas governor sending troops to border; Australian teachers go on strike
NCR Today: Every innocent death, Israeli or Palestinian, is one too many. The world has gotten inured to Israeli tactics of disproportionate response to acts of violence.
As Israel continued its ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, Pope Francis urged Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the spiraling conflict.
The pontiff telephoned the two leaders Friday to express "his very serious concerns" only six weeks after both joined him at the Vatican for a historic prayer meeting.
Francis said he was concerned about the "climate of growing hostility, hatred and suffering" that was claiming many victims, resulting in "a serious humanitarian emergency," the Vatican said in a statement.
Civilians in Gaza used a brief cease-fire to spill onto the streets and replenish scarce supplies, some church representatives said.
The temporary end of hostilities Thursday was to facilitate moving desperately needed aid into the area as well as give those who could leave a chance to escape, said the Vatican's Fides missionary news agency.
Three foreign Sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word were to leave Gaza after Israeli missiles destroyed a home very close to Holy Family Church, the territory's only Catholic parish, the agency said Thursday.
The situation in hospitals in the Gaza Strip is dire, and Palestinians are saying that medical supplies will soon run out.
While the violence escalates in Israel and Gaza, a movement is taking hold that unites Jews, Muslims and others in a campaign for peace.
On Tuesday, a daylong fast is planned as part of a public effort to show unity in the fight against war and violence in the region.
Using the Twitter hashtag #HungryforPeace, the cause started in Israel and gained strength in England, promoted by Yachad, a U.K.-based pro-Israel, pro-peace group. Last weekend, it was announced in temples, mosques and churches in the U.S.
Praying for peace is never a useless exercise -- it keeps evil at bay and helps people not give in to violence, Pope Francis said.
In response to "tragic events" unfolding in the Middle East in early July, the pope delivered "a heartfelt appeal to continue to pray with persistence for peace in the Holy Land."