Twenty-five Catholic bishops through-out the Middle East and Africa have called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Israel and Palestine on Dec. 22 and for urgent action by the Christian world to do more to make peace. Bishop Dr. Munib Younan of the ELCJ, serving in Palestine, Jordan and Israel, has written his colleague His Beatitude Patriarch Michael Sabbah of the Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem in gratitude and support, and is asking the Lutheran world and all partners to join in solidarity with them.
“The situation has dragged on many years now, and requires, today more than ever, action to put an end to the sufferings of all inhabitants of this land, Jews, Christians and Moslems, who have become equally incapable of ending the conflict, fettered as they are in a spiral of cruel and irrational violence. Both peoples, Palestinian and Israeli, are on the verge of perishing, the strong as well as the weak, those who use violence as well as those who wait patiently for a peaceful solution,” the statement says.
Bishop Younan states, “We believe that churches should stand together at this time for the sake of humanity and justice in Israel and Palestine and to save them from every kind of fear or oppression, in order that the two nations may live together in their own viable states, side by side in justice, peace and reconciliation.”
Bishop Younan also states that this call must also extend to all people of faith and courage who seek just peace in the Middle East for the sake of our children. He also strongly agrees with the Catholic bishop’s call for urgent action in the Christian churches because it represents the mind of the grassroots when it says:
“We believe that the churches can do still more. If all the Churches of the world recognize their duty towards the Holy Land, and if they all join together in common and concerted action to sensitive their governments, their people and the international community, their intervention will become a decisive factor in the attainment of justice, peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land”.
Both the Statement and Bishop Younan stress the need for relieving suffering on all sides of the conflict.
“We do not call you to take one side against the other. On the contrary, we want you to help both sides find the way to reconciliation. We are calling for an awakening in the Churches of the world, for a strong voice to be raised to promote peace in this Holy Land, where both peoples are in need of outside help in order to find peace and reconciliation,” the statement said.
Bishop Younan asks all the world to join the initiative of the Catholic bishops for a day of fasting, and prayer on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2004 because “we believe that the babe of the manger in Bethlehem will hear the yearnings of every suffering person and will transform the hearts and minds of peoples and politicians toward justice, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation for Christ is our only hope in our troubled Middle East.”