January 19, 2017
WASHINGTON—Representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including the United States, gathered in the Holy Land to call for peace and action to end the occupation that violates “the human dignity” of Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
“As Bishops we implore Christians in our home countries to recognize our own responsibility for prayer, awareness and action,” the bishops wrote on a statement signed by the 14 gathered representatives. “So many people in the Holy Land have spent their entire lives under occupation, with its polarizing social segregation, yet still profess hope and strive for reconciliation. Now, more than ever, they deserve our solidarity.”
Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the gathering, which included bishops and representatives from Europe, North America and South Africa. The group visited communities in conflict in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem among others.
"The occupation has allowed both Israelis and Palestinians to see and treat each other as enemies. After fifty years, this has worn down their spirits and dampened their hopes," said Bishop Cantú said. "Walking through the city of Hebron for fifty minutes, the tension was palpable. I can't imagine living with these tensions for fifty years. Both Palestinians and Israelis are impacted."
The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.
The full statement is available here.