USCCB News Release
January 15, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USCCB, Other Episcopal Conferences Issue Communique
Calling for End to Violence in the Holy Land
WASHINGTON—Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon, Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined with Catholic bishops from Europe and Canada in issuing a communiqué called "Stop the Violence, Start Building Peace" on behalf of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. This communiqué was issued at a January 15 press conference at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, at the end of Episcopal Conferences' ninth annual visit to the Holy Land.
"There can be no peace unless people believe in peace. There can be no security unless there is security for all. There can be no justice unless there is justice for everyone in this land," said the bishops in the communiqué. They added, "We are pastors, not political leaders, but the religious voice is vital to the search for peace. The reality that every human person is created in the image of God demands dignity for all."
The communiqué said to the world's leaders, "Work with Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence in Gaza and provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance. But do not stop there. With one voice press Israelis and Palestinians to build a just peace with security for Israel and a viable state for Palestinians."
Reflecting on his experience on the road to Nablus, Bishop Kicanas observed, "We encountered many checkpoints and saw numerous Israeli settlements and outposts deep in Palestinian territory. This reality impedes Palestinian movement, weakens their economy and undermines a two-state solution."
Bishop Kicanas went on to say, "On this visit we heard the cries of both Israelis and Palestinians to end the violence. Israeli families are terrified of rocket attacks. Palestinians families agonize over the hundreds dying in Gaza and the dire humanitarian situation. Violence only breeds violence. The United States with the international community must help break this spiral of violence." He added, "Throughout this trip I witnessed vibrant faith: Muslim calls to prayer, Jews bowing in prayer, Christians celebrating the Eucharist with joy. Faith must play an important part in resolving the conflict. Religious leaders must emphasize our common belief in peace and the human dignity of all."
Full text of the communiqué follows:
January 15, 2009
Bethlehem – Jerusalem
Stop the violence! Stop the killing! Start to build peace!
Over and over again we heard these cries during the ninth visit of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences1 to the Mother Church of Jerusalem in this divided and suffering land. The violence in Gaza was on everyone's minds and lips. We heard directly about the human tragedy from the parish priest of Gaza, Father Manawel Musallam.
There can be no peace unless people believe in peace. There can be no security unless there is security for all. There can be no justice unless there is justice for everyone in this land. Faith gives us hope that justice, peace and forgiveness are possible—a conviction shared by our hosts, His Beatitude Fouad Twal and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land.
We are pastors, not political leaders, but the religious voice is vital to the search for peace. The reality that every human person is created in the image of God demands dignity for all. The message of the Prince of Peace, born in this land, reminds us that peace is possible. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." (Isaiah 9:2) The darkness of this time will give way to light.
To the leaders of the international community we say: Work with Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence in Gaza and provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance. But do not stop there. With one voice press Israelis and Palestinians to build a just peace with security for Israel and a viable state for Palestinians.
To the people of God in our countries we say: Intensify your prayer for the welfare of the Mother Church and the peace of Jerusalem. Do not be afraid. Come as pilgrims to the Holy Land and meet the living Christian communities here. Join us in persuading our governments to make Israeli-Palestinian peace a high priority. Support concrete projects and partnerships with the local Christian communities that are struggling for survival.
To the Christians of the Mother Church in the Holy Land we say: We see in you the suffering face of Christ who lost everything for our sake. You are not alone. We are one family, a worldwide communion in Christ. We hear your cries as you suffer alongside your brothers and sisters in the wider community. We assure you of our love, our prayer and our continued solidarity. We ask you to pray for us.
Bishop Peter Bürcher
Bishop of Reykjavik, Scandinavian Bishops' Conference
Bishop Michel Dubost
Bishop of Evry, French Bishops' Conference
Bishop Raymond Field
Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs, Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference
Archbishop Patrick Kelly
Archbishop of Liverpool, Vice-President of Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales
Bishop William Kenney CP
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales
Representative of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson, Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop Reinhard Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Vice President, Commission of International Church Affairs, Bishops' Conference of Germany
Bishop Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia
Bishop of Urgell and Co-Prince of Andorra, Spanish Bishops' Conference
Archbishop V. James Weisgerber
Archbishop of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
# # # # #The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land represents Catholic bishops' conferences of Europe and North America and was formed in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See.