Catholic Bishops gathering in the Holy Land for the annual Holy Land Coordination have called for action and support from their governments.
The Bishops meet every year from across the world ‘to encounter and hear the people of the Holy Land’. They said they were inspired by the ‘enduring resilience and faith in a worsening situation’ that they witnessed. But they echoed the local Bishops’ plea to foreign governments and the international community to help realise justice and peace, and protect human dignity ‘in the place of Christ’s birth’.
The Bishops said:
‘Our governments must do more to meet their responsibilities for upholding international law and protecting human dignity. In some cases, they have become actively complicit in the evils of conflict and occupation.
‘The local Bishops also warned that people are facing further “evaporation of hope for a durable solution”. We have witnessed this reality first-hand, particularly how construction of settlements and the separation wall is destroying any prospect of two states existing in peace.
‘In the same message, the local Bishops have sounded the alarm about living conditions becoming “more and more unbearable”. This is painfully clear in the West Bank where our sisters and brothers are denied even basic rights, including freedom of movement.
‘In Gaza, the political decisions of all sides have resulted in the creation of an open-air prison, human rights abuses and a profound humanitarian crisis. We were welcomed by families whose focus is now day-to-day survival and whose aspirations have been reduced to bare essentials such as electricity and clean water.’
Building a better future for all
‘Amid these circumstances, we are moved by the sacrifice of religious sisters, lay people and priests who are reaching out with respect to every side, in order to build a better future for all. They offer vital services, especially education, job opportunities and care for the most vulnerable people. We give thanks for their witness.’
The Bishops acknowledged that the peoples of the Holy Land would have to shape a new political solution through dialogue. But they urged their own countries to play their part in building a future rooted in human dignity for all.
Plea to the international community
They continued: ‘We encourage Christians in our own countries to pray for and support this mission. The increase in people making pilgrimages to the Holy Land is encouraging and we call for those who come to ensure they encounter the local communities.’
The Bishops said their own governments and countries could help by:
- Insisting upon the application of international law;
- Following the Holy See’s lead in recognising the State of Palestine;
- Addressing the security concerns of Israel and the right of all to live in safety;
- Rejecting political or economic support for settlements;
- Resolutely opposing acts of violence or abuses of human rights by any side.
‘In taking these steps the international community can meaningfully stand in solidarity with those Israelis and Palestinians who are refusing to give up their non-violent struggle for justice, peace and human rights.
We pray for the peace of Jerusalem’.
How we can help
Missio supports Priests, Sisters and projects in the Holy Land working to promote peace, justice and respect, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Read more about one such project here.
This month we’re praying with Pope Francis for peace and justice across the world, and opportunities for empathy and dialogue. Find the Pope’s Prayer Intention here.
And finally, with your help, we can continue to reach people with practical help and God’s enduring love. Together with communities in England and Wales, we’re helping missionaries and local religious and lay people spread a message and example of peace, hope and dignity within their communities. Thank you for being part of Missio.