Saturday, July 22, 2006

Middle East Conflict A Christian Perspctive

In a statement released on July 20 through the Vatican press office, the Holy Father called upon "the pastors and faithful of all the particular churches, and believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace."

The Pope's statement listed specific petitions to be raised during the day of prayer and penance:

* for an immediate ceasefire,
* for the opening of humanitarian corridors allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid, and
* for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region."

Pope Benedict also encouraged relief agencies to provide help to those civilians caught up in the fighting.

The papal statement included a summation of the Holy See's viewpoint on the struggle:

In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.
Source: Catholic World News ( see responses to this item on the site)

I invite you to continue this prayer campaign by visiting the web site of the Peace Abbey
where you will find prayer texts from the major religions for peace.For any of those who are interested, Fr Dany Akiki, Parish Priest of St Maroun's Maronite Parish in Brisbane has warmly welcomed anyone who would like to join him and the Lebanese community at their Mass (English) on any Sunday at 6pm at St Maroun's Lebanese Maronite Church, 29 Bunya St., Greenslopes. He thanks the people of Brisbane for their prayers and support

If these were silent the Stones would shout out
A Statement on the Middle East by Australian Church leaders
1 August 2006

We find it impossible to remain silent in the face of so much pain and suffering in the Middle East, both in Lebanon and in Israel, but we have been particularly outraged by the news this morning of the deaths in the Lebanese village of Qana, no matter what its cause.

Where is the moral courage of our leaders? How can the leadership of the Australian Government and the Opposition not cry out for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire?

We are outraged that such unspeakable pain is being unleashed upon civilians, especially women and children, while the world remains largely silent.

Does it not occur to the Governments of Israel and the United States of America that the very possibility of a lasting, generational, peace is being made almost impossible while a new generation of youth are being accustomed to violence as a way of life.

We deplore the violence of Hezbollah and we deplore the violence of the State of Israel.

We find it impossible to understand how the leaders of our own nation have remained so cowardly silent in the face of such brutality.

We have had enough of this so called war on terror. When will the governments of the world come to understand that peace can only be built on justice and fairness?
We urge all governments of the world to invest in the millennium goals as the road to peace and to immediately apply them for the peoples of the Middle East.

We support the Christian leaders of Jerusalem in their recent call for an end to violence in the Middle East.

We can have no peace while violence is repaid with violence. It is a recipe for eventual annihilation.

May God have mercy upon us all and may there still remain, somewhere in that battered part of the world a seed which can one day grow into peace for the children who will soon become adults. May they not perpetuate the wrongs of the leadership of this generation.

Bishop George Browning, Anglican Church
Bishop Pat Power, Roman Catholic Church
Reverend Peter Walker, Uniting Church
Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ
Professor James Haire, Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture

Contact: Alan Wilson (Bishop Browning's Executive Officer) on (02) 6248 0666 or alan.wilson@anglican.org.au or Bishop Pat Power on (02) 6201 9800 or pat.power@cg.catholic.org.au

They were not the only ones saying 'enough violence, time to talk' :

We, Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice, Australian Arabic Palestinian Support Association, Lebanese Community Council, The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies brought together by our common humanity, people dedicated to peace, non-violence, conflict resolution, International Humanitarian Law and human rights, ask that our voice be heard.

Almost sixty years of bloodshed, violence, counter violence and many wars have not resulted in an end to the conflict, or an end to the pain and sufferings, to the killing of the innocents.

Buffer zones, mass retaliation, killing of civilians and oppression have not brought about lasting security or a just and equitable peace. There is a complex history of oppression and hurt for all peoples involved in the conflict, and it is counter-productive to blame one side or another.

Prospects for peace depend on resurrecting the value of dialogue and negotiation. History has shown that for entrenched cycles of violence to end, a willingness to meet in the spirit of common humanity is required. Israelis and Americans, Palestinians and Europeans, Arab politicians and United Nations representatives need to renew an interest in life rather than death. Realising these goals depends on a peace enhancing culture replacing the current preoccupation with violence and war. Only changed attitudes will enhance the possibilities of a ceasefire and a subsequent peace with justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.

All parties, including Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese should adhere to a ceasefire across Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The long term solution is to build confidence and trust, the creation of an independent Palestinian State and a secure State of Israel. The UN resolutions already e xist to provide the framework for negotiation.

We urge the Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli Leaders to respect the lives of civilians and to create an environment that is safe and secure for all. We urge the Israeli Government to ease the harsh conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.

We, the concerned signatories to this statement, urge all people in Australia and the world to work together in bringing about a peaceful outcome to the problems of the Israeli-Palestinian issues. This can only come about by fresh thinking that is not based on past injustices and oppression, but on a commitment to a good life for all peoples in the region.

Our vision is that this document will contribute to continuing dialogue, between the signatories and others in Australia and around the world.

Enough violence, enough killing and enough suffering. Its time to listen, to hear and talk to one another.

For further information please contact:
Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice
Donna Jacobs Sife 0417241418
Lyndall Katz
Claire Jankelson 0401 156 321
Australian Arabic Palestinian Support Association Inc
Abe Quadan 0412 460 373
Lebanese Community Council
Elie Nassif 0425230649 96260162
Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies
Prof. Stuart Rees 9351 4763 9351 4468

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