Updated Monday 6 November
Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales statement on the ongoing war and violence in the Holy Land
Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference’s International Affairs department, and Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Chair of the Holy Land Co-ordination have released a statement on the ongoing Israel/Hamas war:
“To our brothers and sisters across the Holy Land, particularly those sheltering in the Parish of the Holy Family in Gaza along with those in the West Bank, we remain close to you and in constant prayer for you at this most difficult, terrifying, and testing of times. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you always.
“To our own government, we urge you to continue your diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire, the immediate release of all hostages and the facilitation of humanitarian aid so that desperately needed food, water, fuel, and medical supplies can be safely delivered into Gaza. We will continue to add our voice to the impassioned chorus calling for justice, peace, and the cessation of the suffering that has descended upon the Holy Land.
“To the Catholic Community here in England and Wales, please join us in prayer for those in the Holy Land, particularly for those who have been taken hostage, those who have been killed, those who have been injured, and their families.
“We also pray for those who are wearied by the conflict to receive strength, and those in positions of power and authority receive the wisdom to guide them into ways of peace and justice.”
Christian Aid coordinated statement
The international development agency Christian Aid, alongside over 20 church leaders and Christian organisations, is calling for a ceasefire and all governments with influence to bring an immediate end to the violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
Churches Together in England is a signatory to this statement alongside many national Member Churches and partner organisations.
“We call on all governments with influence to help bring about an immediate end to the violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Specifically, we call for the following steps to be taken:
- Protection of civilians and an end to all violence, with the adoption of a ceasefire without conditions.
- The unconditional and immediate release of all hostages.
- Unfettered and immediate humanitarian access, as urged by the UN, including immediate reconnection to water and electricity.
- Unequivocal support for the ICC to conduct a truly independent investigation into all war crimes to ensure accountability.
- Acknowledgement of the failure of the international community to effectively engage with any meaningful peace process, and a commitment to work ceaselessly from now on to address the root causes of the violence which must include an end to the occupation.”
Friends of the Holy Land appeal for Gaza
The CEO of Friends of the Holy Land, a Christian charity, Brendan Metcalf writes:
Just over 1,000 Christians live and worship in Gaza. As the intense bombing began, they were reaching out to their neighbours of all faiths, offering shelter and support.
Around 4,000 people have been taking refuge in Church buildings, places they thought were safe from the bombs. There are 3,000 sheltering in the Arab Orthodox Cultural Centre (one of our projects, pictured in 2022 below) We have sadly seen in the news that this is not guaranteed but is still the best hope for the local people.
Friends of the Holy Land is registered as a local charity and we have our own local bank accounts in the Holy Land. Last week we sent US$10,000 to Gaza to the Christian community to help them buy water, tinned food, medicines and other limited essential supplies. We had confirmation that the cash had arrived and was distributed immediately by the Christian committee on the ground. However, we know that this will only support those sheltering for 5-7 days. We have been able to send a further US$25,000 this week but they urgently need more help. Together we can stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, by:
- making a direct donation to Friends of the Holy Land
- praying for a ceasefire and for the safety of our small Christian community. Our shared prayers for peace.
We are heartbroken by these recent events and are doing our best to react quickly to get immediate help to those sheltering in our churches and buildings in Gaza City. We are also thinking of the longer-term impact and need to build our available reserves to help bring relief across Gaza, the West Bank and Israel in the aftermath. Your prayers and donations are very much appreciated.
Friends of the Holy Land is a Charity and Network in Association with Churches Together in England.
Heads of Jerusalem Churches and Archbishop of Canterbury joint statement on the bombing of St. Porphyrios Church and humanitarian concerns in the Gaza war
“…we call upon all warring parties to de-escalate the violence, cease from indiscriminately targeting civilians on all sides, and operate within the international rules of warfare. Only in this way, we believe, can the groundwork be laid for an eventual diplomatic consideration of longstanding grievances so that a just and lasting peace can finally be achieved throughout our beloved Holy Land both in our time, and for generations to come.”
Letter to the Foreign Secretary from the Network of Christian Peace Organisations
Representatives from The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Iona Community and the Student Christian Movement – all of which are Charities and Networks in Association with CTE – have joined 13 organisations and more than 700 church members to sign an open letter to the Foreign Secretary about the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza. The letter, created by members of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations, calls on the Foreign Secretary to promote ‘de-escalation and dialogue’ in Palestine and Israel. It recognises the huge ongoing human suffering and urges lasting ‘non-military’ solutions to peace in the region to be pursued.
John Cooper, from Fellowship of Reconciliation, who helped organise the letter said “As more blood is spilled in the Middle East it’s important for us to act as people of hope. Our hope starts by recognising and lamenting the increased violence in this sacred region. It then moves to action, urging people in positions of political power to use their influence not simply to stop this new fighting but to lay foundations for lasting peace”
Main photo credit: Ruins of St Porphyrius Parish Church Hall © Friends of the Holy Land