Statement of the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel

“Free Access for Believers to Their Respective Holy Sites Must Be Provided”

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the statement given by the Israel Council of Religious Communities after they met with Benedict XVI today in the Vatican.

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On the occasion of meeting H.H. Pope Benedict  XVI, this tenth day of November 2011, we the religious leaders in the State of Israel affirm our belief in the Creator of the Universe who directs His world with loving kindness and compassion and who calls upon us human beings to live with one another in peace and dignity.

The Council of Religious Leaders expresses gratitude to His Holiness for this outstanding meeting, and holds in esteem His activity to bring hearts together and to bring peace throughout the world.

First and foremost, we reiterate our commitment to the sanctity of human life and reject all violence, especially when this is done in the name of religion – a desecration of the sacred.

In order to maintain peace and mutual respect among the different religious communities in our State, we must educate our children and congregations accordingly and prevent any offense against the feelings or beliefs of others.

We inherited the Holy Sites from our forebears, and we are required to preserve their religious sanctity and cultural significance. We do this, also in the name of Israeli Law related to the protection of the Holy Sites. The unity and special character of the Holy Sites must be protected from all violence and desecration. It is the responsibility of the religious leaders to strengthen this approach and to call on their communities to ensure that the Holy Sites of other religious communities are not harmed.

In accordance with the above, and in keeping with the commandments and prohibitions of each respective religion, free access for believers to their respective holy sites must be provided, and the empowered civil authorities must guarantee this.

Our religious heritages teach us that peace, doing justice, and righteousness are the commandments of the Holy One Blessed Be He, and as religious leaders, we have a special duty to be attentive to the cry of the weak in our midst and to work together for a more just and fair society.

We reiterate our commitment to do everything in our power to fulfill this important charge, especially in the Holy Land, which is dear to us all.

Offering our prayer heavenwards, we give thanks to the Creator, who has enabled us to come together this day in order to work together to bring a blessing for all.

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