Source: Churches for Middle East Peace
This afternoon, (2.30 local time) Catholic and other Christian peacemakers held a 'pray-in' near Lafayette Park outside the White House to call on President Joe Biden, a Catholic, to abide by Jesus's way of courageous love and heed Pope Francis's plea to take the side of peace, and urge all parties to de-escalate hostilities; abide by an immediate ceasefire; and release all hostages.
The groups involved with Thursday's event believe that the focus must shift to diplomacy, accountability mechanisms, robust humanitarian aid, and strategic peacebuilding, and that retribution is not accountability.
The witness included All Souls Day prayers remembering all who have died and in particular praying for all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, have been injured, and died in the war.
The organisers said: "We believe urgent action is needed to stop the mass death and destruction and to save lives."
Co-sponsors of today's pray-in included the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Franciscan Action Network, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Pax Christi USA, Quixote Center, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, the Isaiah Project, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and the Assisi Community.
Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA said: "Pax Christi USA is deeply aware of the US government's complicity in this conflict, its tacit support of the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, and its unchecked military aid to Israel. As members of the national Catholic peace movement, we bear a special responsibility to holding the US government to account, speaking out against military aid that will only lead to greater bloodshed, and demanding action on behalf of a ceasefire and the painstaking work to create a just peace rooted in equality, human rights, and dignity for all."
Eli McCarthy, from the Franciscan Action Network said: "War is trauma, not justice. Enacting a ceasefire will create the dynamics for accountability of all parties responsible for harm. Credible messengers and other incentives can be mobilized toward the detaining of such parties without mass slaughter and destruction. As Cardinal Pizzaballa offered himself in exchange for child hostages, let us offer gestures of humanity to break the cycles of violence."
Sir Jeff Abood, Chair of the Catholic Advisory Council for Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)"We join together in praying for our common humanity. The first step of which is to call for a ceasefire, helping end the violence which devalues humanity and lifts up the lives that remain."
Lamar Bailey, Director of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, said: "We grieve and condemn all violence and war, which only fuels more violence and represents what Popes John Paul II and Francis lamented as 'a defeat for humanity.' For far too long, political leaders have relied on militarized responses to conflict and have not addressed the root causes of conflict. The security of Israel is inextricably tied to justice for the Palestinian people. We urge President Biden to support an immediate ceasefire."
Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International's Catholic Nonviolence Initiative commented: "I am convinced that every Palestinian and every Israeli, every Jew, every Muslim, every Christian living in the Holy Land is yearning for genuine security, for dignity, for freedom, for peace - and that strong, courageous, effective nonviolent action - not more weapons and war - is the only path to such a future." Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International's Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
Michele Dunne, Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network said: "Franciscans have an 800-year history of ministering to the peoples of the Holy Land and our hearts are broken by their intense suffering. We call on President Biden to ensure that the United States does everything it can to end the violence there and nothing to prolong it."