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It's Not the Sistine Chapel....But: Reflections on the 2018 Interfaith Walk for Peace

On Sunday, April 29, about 300 to 400 people of different spiritual persuasions gathered and then walked through portions of Center City and Northern Liberties to celebrate all of our unity and comradery ‘midst all our diversity. Walking together were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, secular humanists, and whoever else.

The Friends Quaker Meeting House at 315 Arch St. was our first stop; then we went to the Society Hill Synagogue on Spruce St. between 3rd and 4th. We completed the program and had a wonderful meal at the Al Aqsa Mosque at Germantown and Jefferson. This was our 15th walk and as I was trying to come up with an angle for this story, I saw on the news that a Protestant choir was, for the first time ever, invited to sing in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. This current pope continues to amaze me…as he does many of my non-Catholic, even my non-believing, friends.

Barriers to bridges. I think of my trip last summer to County Derry in North Ireland where we walked the magnificent “Freedom Bridge.” Derry is beautiful and full of history. A giant Mural of a priest holding up a bloody white towel begging and pleading the “Bloody Sunday” to stop, stares out at the tourists passing by. The priest’s name was John Daly and he would become an outspoken proponent of reconciliation, peace and unity, loved by all. I suspect he’d have loved Pope Francis.


And so, back on this side of the Big Pond, we walked in friendship and harmony. Already however, there have been other venues of peace and unity. About a half mile, north of Al Aqsa, sits St. Malachy’s church – home of the Catholic Peace Fellowship. Their retreat was Saturday(4-21) and the theme was “Restorative Justice.” I think of the pope’s visit to a woman’s prison shortly after he was elected.

“You visited me when in prison…” indeed.

Tales of family and loved ones stuck in a corroded system. The most glaring injustice was the institution of 2nd degree murder which essentially becomes life without parole for the accomplice of a felon committing a murder. For some reason, the perpetrator is often eligible for parole; while the accomplice is not.

As graphic and accomplished were all the speakers in recanting their struggles and traumas, a real sense of hope came to us in that packed school hall where the retreat took place. A lawyer named Jody Dodd, who reports to our recently elected District Attorney, Larry Krasner, spoke of his agenda…including the elimination of that 2nd degree murder option. There is a current bill in Harrisburg (SB 293) that is pushing for that to take place.

Krasner does seem to have a progressive agenda. Replacing 30 lawyers in his 2nd day of office, speaks of someone unafraid to rock the boat. And if his newly hired staff are as sharp and dedicated as Esq Dodd, eventually, we might see some of the desperately needed changes in our legal system.


And so it goes. The weather for our walk was kind of ‘iffy’, a little chilly but rain free. But today the weather was beautiful. At long last the cold and nasty seems the have been replaced the warm and sunny.

Goodness through the ages trying to find the sun

About 50 years ago, John Fogerty (and CCR) crooned. Well John we’re still trying.

And as

-----The most influential spiritual person in the world opens doors for a group of brothers that have never been opened before….

-----A priest risks his life and limb to get the shooting to stop

-----A crowd jams into a humble school hall seeking a means to restore their brother

------Folk of all shapes, colors, sizes and beliefs, stroll through city streets, getting to know each other and to bask in the sunlight of the spirit.

Life can be good…

Jim McGovern

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