Prelates Denounce Lack of Will for Mideast Peace

European, American Bishops Complete Annual Tour

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JERUSALEM, JAN. 14, 2010 ( Eight months after Benedict XVI exhorted Israelis and Palestinians to promote the two-state solution and achieve lasting peace in the Holy Land, the resolution to the decades-long conflict does not seem any closer, according to a group of prelates who concluded a visit to the region today.

A communiqué from eight European and North American prelates noted that many people «express a desire for peace, but what is needed is a commitment to justice that secures peace.»

«The solutions are well known to leaders,» they asserted, «but what is needed is political will and courage.»

This was the conclusion expressed by the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. The groups makes an annual trip to the Middle East.

Peace is not coming closer, the prelates lamented, and moreover, there is «a growing distance between Israelis and Palestinians — a lack of human contact that undermines trust and dialogue.»

«Violence, insecurity, home demolitions, permit and visa problems, the route of the wall, expropriation of lands and other policies threaten both a two-state solution and the Christian presence,» the bishops cautioned.

They affirmed that the «deteriorating situation is not good for Israelis, Palestinians, the region and the world.»

Living stones

The commission noted the goal of their visits to «focus the eyes of Catholics around the world on what happens here.»

The bishops called the faithful not only to pray for the Church in the Holy Land but also for the synod of bishops that will meet at the Vatican to discuss the Middle East this October.

«We encourage our people to learn about the situation and to come on pilgrimage to witness the vibrant faith of the ‘living stones’ of the local Church — the ‘Fifth Gospel,'» they said. «We urge them to support public officials who take courageous initiatives for a just resolution of the conflict — a two-state solution with security and recognition for Israel, and a viable and independent state for Palestinians. For us, this is not merely about politics; it is an issue of basic human rights.»

The European and North American bishops acknowledged that in a such a situation, «it is difficult to sustain hope.» 

But, they said, «as Christians we were all born with Jesus Christ in Bethlehem; we all died and rise to new life in Jerusalem. Despite the wounds of this land, love and hope are alive. Peace with justice is within reach, but political leaders and all people of good will need courage to achieve it.»

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