January 15, 2015
WASHINGTON—The path to peace in the Holy Land requires respect for the human rights and dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians, said bishops from Europe, South Africa and North America, gathered in the Holy Land to pray for peace, January 15. The Co-Ordination of Episcopal Conference in Support of the Church of the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.
“After the failed negotiations and ensuing violence of 2014, we urge public officials to be creative, to take new approaches, to build bridges, not walls,” the bishops wrote in a statement signed by the 16 gathered representatives. “We must humanize the conflict by fostering more interaction between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace will only come when all parties respect the fact that the Holy Land is sacred to three faiths and home to two peoples.”
Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the gathering, which toured areas including Gaza and the Cremisan Valley.
“Many tens of thousands of families in Gaza lack adequate shelter. In the latest freezing weather, at least two infants died of exposure,” the bishops wrote. “The continuing blockade dramatically impedes rebuilding and contributes to desperation that undermines Israelis’ legitimate hope for security. It also creates intolerable levels of unemployment and pushes ordinary people into deeper poverty.”
The bishops cited the Cremisan Valley as a microcosm of the land conflict between Israel and Palestine and noted Pope Francis’ January 12 address to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps, in which he expressed “confident hope that negotiations between the two parties will once more resume, for the sake of ending violence and reaching a solution which can enable Palestinians and Israelis alike to live at last in peace within clearly established and internationally recognized borders, thus implementing the ‘two state solution’.”
Full text of the statement is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/church-in-the-holy-land-coordination-statement-2015-01-15.cfm
Keywords: Holy Land, communiqué, bishops, Europe, North America, South Africa, USCCB, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Cremisan Valley, Pope Francis
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