WASHINGTON (November 21 2007)- Ahead of an international peace conference to pursue a just and lasting peace among Israelis and Palestinians, to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, on November 27, Cardinal Francis George, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged bishops in dioceses across the country to encourage Catholics to pray for peace, especially this coming Sunday, November 25. The announcement of the peace conference was made November 20 by the State Department.
"This call to prayer has a special timeliness this week, but the path to a just peace will be long and will stretch beyond the peace conference itself," he said. "In the weeks and months ahead, may we persevere in prayer for a just peace for Israelis, Palestinians and the whole region."
On Tuesday, the State Department announced that representatives from approximately 50 nations will participate in the Annapolis peace conference along with Israelis and Palestinians to pursue peace between the two peoples. The hope is that this conference will spur future substantive peace talks in the region.
The full text of Cardinal George's letter follows below.
Office of the President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 21, 2007
Dear Brother Bishops:
Last night the State Department announced the convening of an international peace conference in Annapolis next Tuesday, November 27, to pursue the vision of a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians-two states living side by side in peace and security.
In accordance with our discussion last week during the bishops' meeting in Baltimore, I urge you to encourage local parish communities and individual Catholics to pray for peace, especially this coming Sunday, November 25.
For decades, our Conference of Bishops has worked and prayed for peace in the Holy Land. In more recent years, we have joined with Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East to support a two-state solution to the conflict.
This call to prayer has a special timeliness this week, but the path to a just peace will be long and will stretch beyond the peace conference itself. In the weeks and months ahead may we persevere in prayer for a just peace for Israelis, Palestinians and the whole region.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago