A Statement by three former Heads of Churches in Jerusalem on the Israeli Annexation plans
Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings from the Land of the Holy One, Israel and Palestine.
The Holy Land is in fire, in a situation of war, and needs to be restored to its holiness. It is full of human sufferings, because justice is absent. The land of God calls on all churches, governments, and people of good will, to act and put an end to this tragedy. All believers are responsible.
We write this appeal as Arab Palestinian Christians, who have lived here since Pentecost, and form an integral part of our society.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and He has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18).
In this spirit we write and ask you to share in the mission of peace-making and reconciliation, restoring holiness to the Land of the Holy One, the Holy Land. Reconciliation based on equal dignity and rights of all people, no more one people against the other, no more one people oppressing the other. All are equally children of God.
The Covid-19 pandemic has diverted attention from issues of justice and peace to matters of life and death. We too share in this universal affliction and ask God to have mercy and grant healing to all.
But we also are concerned with the old sickness of our land, already a one-hundred-year dispute between the two peoples of the land. We are deeply concerned with the sufferings and injustices imposed on our people. To those who believe this is the land of the Redemption of the world, it is time to act and help both peoples to reconcile, and be redeemed from all forms of injustice, oppression, hatred and death.
The solution to this conflict was identified many years ago and expressed through numerous UN resolutions. The majority of nations already recognize both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. Our call is simply this, please implement what was already recognized. Help Israel have its security. Help Palestine have its independence. Help both states to live side by side in peace, justice, equity and democracy. Let there be no more hatred, no more death, but only justice, equality and life.
Jerusalem is the key to this peace, not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also uniting adherents of the three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Today Jerusalem is not a city of peace but of conflict and strife. Help Jerusalem become the center of reconciliation, justice and equality. When peace comes to Jerusalem, God-willing, peace will come to the whole world.
At this critical time, Israel must defuse the tension and comply with UN Resolutions. The Israeli military occupation and colonization of Palestine is the root cause of the on-going conflict. Without a just peace, both Israelis and Palestinians will continue to suffer the consequences of perpetual conflict and strife.
The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem have already shared their vision of the future and appealed to you to reject Israel’s destructive annexation plans. Christians of the Holy Land, through the Kairos movement, have also appealed to you. Please respond to our united call from the Holy Land, and help us restore its holiness, by implementing international law and recognizing the basic rights of all its citizens.
We are especially fearful for the future of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land if this conflict continues, and there is no hope of justice on the horizon, the pressure to emigrate continues.
It is time to act in order to extinguish the destructive fires raging in the Holy Land. The solution is known. Only a just peace will put end to hatred, to oppression, and the suffering of so many in the land made holy by God.
Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
+ Patriarch Michael Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus, Roman Catholic Latin, Jerusalem
+ Bishop Riah Abu El Assal, Bishop Emeritus, Anglican Church, Jerusalem
+ Bishop Munib A. Younan, Bishop Emeritus, Lutheran Church, Jerusalem
Jerusalem, June 15, 2020