Catholic Bishops' Statement From the Holy Land

“Peace Here is Vital for World Peace”

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JERUSALEM, JAN. 14, 2005 ( Bishops from Europe and North America gathered this week in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee to share in the life of the local Churches in the Holy Land and to strengthen their union with the Church in Jerusalem. Below is a message sent by the bishops to political leaders in the Holy Land.

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A Statement by the Members of the Episcopal Coordination for the Holy Land

Jerusalem, Jan. 10-13, 2005

In a gesture of fraternal solidarity with the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, and with the express approval and support of the Holy See, bishops from Europe and North America have come once more this year to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee this week to share in the life of the Local Churches in the Holy Land and to strengthen their communion with the Mother Church of Jerusalem. The Episcopal Coordination works to support the Local Church in its mission of justice, peace and reconciliation. During these last few days we have visited the President of Israel and the President of the Palestinian authority and have brought them both the following message.

We come in the footsteps of two pilgrims to the Holy Land, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.

We are completely united with the Christians of the Holy Land, as they affirm the teaching of Pope Paul VI that peace is brought about through justice for all, and as they stand resolutely with Pope John Paul II in his consistent rejection of any form of violence as a road to peace.

We visit you at a time of great political potential. We know several of our native countries have helped to shape the history of this Land. We are determined that the issues which touch the lives and hopes of all in the Holy Land shall not be neglected. On our return, we will use every opportunity to share with our own communities and governments what we have learned from Palestinian and Israeli authorities and what we have heard and seen in parishes, in Bethlehem’s wonderful university – whose story is followed with great interest in many countries – and in schools and hospitals, as well as in Galilee.

At this important moment, we seek to encourage and support all who strive for justice and so pursue peace and those practical steps that will enable the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live in this Land with dignity, in two states, in security and equity.

We affirm and stand with the Church in the Holy Land, with the Patriarch, the pastors, religious men and women and lay people, in their unique witness to the faith we share with them. With the whole Church, we are committed to the survival and vitality of the Christian community in this Land where Jesus was born, died, was buried and rose again.

The importance of the Fundamental Agreement between Israel and the Holy See and the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization are clear to us and we urge their full enactment and implementation without delay.

We will work for a just peace in this Land and seek to engage our local Churches and countries in this task. The entire world has a stake in justice and peace here. Peace here is vital for world peace.

At this hopeful moment our prayers are with all who share this Land; Israelis and Palestinians, Christians, Jews and Muslims, that we will very soon see decisive action and courageous steps to bring an end to violence and injustice and accomplish reconciliation and a just and lasting peace in the Land we all call Holy.

Jerusalem, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005

+Patrick Kelly, archbishop of Liverpool and vice president, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and delegate, Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE)

+Brendan O’Brien, archbishop of St. John’s Newfoundland and president, Canadian bishops’ conference

+William S. Skylstad, bishop of Spokane and president, United States bishops’ conference

+Andre Lacrampe, archbishop of Besançon, French bishops’ conference

+Joan Enric Vives, bishop of Urgell and Co-prince of Andorra, Spanish bishops’ conference

+William Kenney, auxiliary bishop of Stockholm, Scandinavian bishops’ conference and delegate, Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE)

+Pierre Burcher, auxiliary bishop of Lausanne, Swiss bishops’ conference

+Andreas Laun, auxiliary bishop of Salzburg, Austrian bishops’ conference

+Monsignor Piergiuseppe Vachelli, undersecretary, Italian bishops’ conference

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