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Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Chairman, International Policy Committee
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 11, 2004
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops extends our prayers to the family of President Yasser Arafat and to the Palestinian people at this time of mourning.
The passing of President Arafat will bring a time of major transition for the Palestinian people—a time filled with both opportunities and dangers. We pray that the loss of the Palestinian people encourages them to embrace opportunities for democratic renewal and a sustained commitment to peace with justice. We hope that grief and loss will not fuel renewed violence and retaliation.
For our part, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people at this time of loss and remain committed to a just peace that is built on the twin foundations of a viable state for the Palestinian people and security for the people of Israel. We also express our solidarity with the people of Israel at this time of uncertainty and tension.
Together with our partners in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, we will continue to bring together religious leaders in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities to support the Road Map and twelve steps toward a just peace.
Times of change often bring new possibilities and responsibilities. We renew our call to President Bush for strong and sustained U.S. leadership that actively engages both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an urgent, persistent step-by-step process towards a just and sustainable peace.
As people of faith we believe that death does not have the final word. We pray this time of transition brought on by the death of President Arafat will lead to new life for his people and to progress toward peace and justice for Palestinians, Israelis and all who live in the land we call holy.
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