statement

Bishops call for the humanitarian situation to be resolved in Gaza - a 'man-made disaster'

16/01/2014 9:32 am

 

Statement of the Co-ordination of Bishops’ Conferences in support of the Church in the Holy Land, 16 January 2014

As bishops from Europe, South Africa and North America we came to the Holy Land to pray with and support the Christian community and the cause of peace.

In Gaza we witnessed the deep poverty of the people, and the courageous presence of the small and vulnerable Christian communities there.

Gaza is a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal, an injustice that cries out to the human community for a resolution. We call upon political leaders to improve the humanitarian situation of the people in Gaza, assuring access to the basic necessities for a dignified human life, the possibilities for economic development, and freedom of movement.

In the seemingly hopeless situation of Gaza, we met people of hope. We were encouraged by our visit to tiny Christian communities, which day after day, through many institutions, reach out with compassion to the poorest of the poor - both Muslim and Christian.

We continue to pray for and support the priests, religious and laypeople working in Gaza. They exercise a ministry of presence, they care for disabled children and the elderly, and teach the young.

Their testimony of faith, hope and love gave us hope. This is precisely the hope needed at this moment to bring peace - a peace that can only be built on justice and equity for both peoples.

Palestinians and Israelis desperately need this peace. For example, in the Cremisan Valley the route of the security barrier threatens the agricultural land held for generations by 58 Christian families. The current peace talks come at a critical time. Now is the time to ensure that the aspirations for justice of both sides are fulfilled.

We urge public officials to become leaders of hope, not people of obstruction. We call upon them to listen to the words of Pope Francis, who recently said to the Diplomatic Corps:

"The resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians is a positive sign, and I express my hope that both parties will resolve, with the support of the international community, to take courageous decisions aimed at finding a just and lasting solution to a conflict which urgently needs to end." 13 January 2014

As we leave the Holy Land, the bishops and people of the local Church remain in our hearts. They are not alone. Together with them we are people of hope. We pray that the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land will reinforce hope in the region. We believe a lasting peace is possible.

Archbishop Stephen Brislin
South Africa

Bishop Pierre Burcher
Scandinavia

Bishop William Crean
Ireland

Bishop Michel Dubost
France

Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher
Canada

Archbishop Patrick Kelly
England and Wales

Bishop William Kenney
England and Wales

Bishop Declan Lang
England and Wales

Bishop Denis Nulty
Ireland

Bishop Richard Pates
United States of America

Bishop Thomas Renz
Germany

Bishop Janusz Stepnowski
Poland

Archbishop Joan Enric Vives
Spain

Related

The full text of Pope Francis' address to the Holy See's Diplomatic Corps quoted in this statement, can be downloaded using the link in the top right-hand corner of the page.

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Address to Diplomatic Corps 2014

pope-diplomatic-corps-2014.pdf 400.23 kB

Pope Francis' address to the Holy See's Diplomatic Corps given in the Sala Regia on 13 January 2014.