Statement from Pax Christi

 It is out of a spirit of hope in a time of great sadness and fear that the British Section of Pax Christi calls on Churches throughout the UK to pray and act for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.

On this the 11th day of the military bombardment of Gaza, with no ceasefire in site, we must show our solidarity with the dispossessed who suffer the violence of the bombs and the violence of the on-going siege. We must show our solidarity with those Christians, Jews and Muslims in the region who bravely call for an end to violence - pointing to futility of violence and military responses to the long and tragic political problems of Palestine and Israel.

We are with Pope Benedict in declaring that: "the dramatic news that we are receiving from the Gaza Strip shows that the refusal to dialogue leads to situations that weigh unspeakably on the populations who are again victim to hatred and war" (Speaking in Rome, Angelus, 4th January 2009)

We are with former International President of Pax Christi, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah who has said that "every hour is not just a war crime but a crime against humanity." The Patriarch was speaking earlier this week at a service in Jerusalem. "In the skies above Gaza lightning falls on human rights. We have seen this in the past and what we see in the Strip, unfortunately, is repeated generation after generation. It is not an act of God. God created man in His own image and likeness, created love and reconciliation and justice, but what we see is the destruction of human beings in Gaza and everywhere, and the destruction of all of Palestine."

In preparing to mark Peace Sunday on 18 January 2009

" We ask that people of faith set aside time each day to pray for the people of Gaza and Israel and for a ceasefire which will allow time for other responses and voices to be heard. On 18th January the Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrates Peace Sunday - on this day special thoughts and prayers should be offered for the people of Palestine and Israel.

" We ask fellow citizens to speak or write to political and religious leaders expressing concern for what is happening and urging them to use their position and voice to call an immediate halt to Israel's military assault and Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel, and work towards the ending of the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel - at the root of so much of the injustice, fear and anger in the region.

" We ask people of faith to join together at local and national level, with secular groups, to speak out and act nonviolently against the destruction of the people of Gaza and the threats to the civilian population of Israel."

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