The United States is poised to make a real difference in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should provide tireless leadership to ensure a two-state solution in the Middle East, said two leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to President Barack Obama.
"We affirm your support of the two-state solution, promise our support for strong US leadership for peace, and urge you even to consider appointing a high profile envoy in hopes that as in the past this might advance peace and justice in the region," wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of USCCB, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates acknowledged that actions by both Israelis and Palestinians, including rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli occupation and settlement policies, have undermined peace in the region, threatening the possibility of a two-state solution of "a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state."
The bishops also noted the heavy toll violence takes on the ancient Christian community in the Holy Land. They quoted the Christmas homily of Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem, who invited "politicians and men of good will to work with determination for peace and reconciliation that encompasses Palestine and Israel in the midst of all the suffering in the Middle East."
On 7 January, Bishop Pates also joined leaders from over 35 Christian denominations in a letter offering prayers and urging President Obama to devote the efforts of his second term to ending the conflict. The full text of that letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/upload/letter-to-the-President-Jan-2013.pdf
At the time of the release of both letters, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, a consultant to the bishops' International Justice and Peace Committee and chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, joined representatives of the bishops' conferences from Europe and North America in the Holy Land to reiterate the call for a just peace. The full text of their communiqué is published here: www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=21737