Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries calls on people of Holy Land to build bridges of respect and love

Righteousness and Peace will embrace each other

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will embrace each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.” (Psalm 85:8-11)

The recent developments in the Palestine-Israel context, the ongoing loss of lives, the continuing evaporation of hope for a durable solution, and the failure of the international community to insist on the application of international law to save the peoples of this land from more struggle and despair, have reached a point where we witness more extremism and discrimination. Even those who once presented themselves as guardians of democracy and promoters of peace, have become power-brokers and partisan participants in the conflict.

This has led many to question whether international diplomacy and the peace process were ever actually based on justice and good will. Many in Palestine and in Israel feel that since the launch of the peace process, their lives have become more and more unbearable. Many have left, many more consider leaving and some are resorting to violence. Some die quietly and others are losing faith and hope.

Reflecting on the past few decades, during which we were promised peace and reconciliation but received more hatred and oppression, corruption and demagoguery, it is time for the Churches and spiritual leaders to point to another way, to insist that all, Israelis and Palestinians, are brothers and sisters in humanity. The Churches insist that we can love one another and live together in mutual respect and equality, equal in rights and duties, in this same land. This is not simply a dream but the powerful basis of a vision that inspired our ancestors, the prophets.

Only a peace based on dignity, mutual respect and equality as human beings will save us, allow us to survive and even thrive in this land made holy by the witness of our ancestors, patriarchs and prophets, and which we continue to make holy by our striving for justice, our thirst for peace and the mutual love we have for one another.

We are in need of a new orientation, a new education and a new vision for this land and the two peoples who live here.

We, the heads of the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, stand with all those living in the land first and foremost as human beings. We seek to show a way out of a permanent situation of war, hatred and death. We seek to point the way to a new life in this land, established on principles of equality and love. We underline that any resolution must be based on the common good of all who live in this land without distinction.

We call on Christians in Palestine-Israel to join their voices with Jews, Muslims, Druze and all others, who share this vision of a society based on equality and the common good and invite all to build bridges of mutual respect and love. The proposal for a two-state solution has gone nowhere and is repeated to no avail. In fact, all talk of political solution seems empty rhetoric in the present situation.

Therefore, we promote a vision according to which everyone in this Holy Land has full equality, the equality befitting all men and women created equal in God’s own image and likeness. We believe that equality, whatever political solutions might be adopted, is a fundamental condition for a just and lasting peace.

We have lived together in this land in the past, why should we not live together in the future too?

This is our vision for Jerusalem and the whole land, called Israel and Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

May 20, 2019

 

Moussa AL-HAGE

Maronite Archbishop of Haifa

Maronite Exarch of  Jerusalem

Acting President of AOCTS

Youssef  SOUEIF

Maronite Archbishop of  Cyprus

+ Joseph  GEBARA

Gr. Melkite Cath. Arch. of Petra and

Philadelphia (Amman)

+ Pierbattista PIZZABALLA

Apostolic Administrator of the

Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Latins

+  Michel SABBAH

Former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

President of Episc. Comm. Justice & Peace

+  Fouad TWAL

Former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

+  Boutros MOUALLEM

Former Gr. Melkite Cath. Arch. of Akka

+  Elias CHACOUR

Former Gr. Melkite Cath. Arch. of Akko

+  Yaser Al-AYYASH

Gr. Melkite Cath. Patriarchal Vicar

+  Gregoire Pierre MELKI

Syrian Catholic Exarch

+ Krikor-Okosdinos COUSSA

Armenian Catholic Exarch

+  Giacinto-Boulos MARCUZZO

Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine

+  William SHOMALI

Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan

+  Joseph Jules ZEREY

Former Gr. Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar of  Jerusalem

+  Kamal-Hanna BATHISH

Former Auxiliary Bishop of  the LPJ

+  Selim SAYEGH

Former Auxiliary Bishop of  the LPJ

Fr. Francesco PATTON, OFM

Custos of the Holy Land

Fr. Hanna KALDANI

Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel

Fr. Jerzey KRAJ, OFM.

Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Cyprus

Fr. Rafic NAHRA.

Patriarchal Vicar for St James Vicariate

Fr. Zaid HABBABA

Chaldean Vicar General for Jordan

Fr. Jean-Daniel GULLUNG, AA

Director of the Committee of the Religious Men

Sr. Bruna FASAN

President of the Union of the Religious Superiors of Women

Fr. Pietro FELET, scj

Secretary General