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Statement on Crisis in Holy Land







April 5, 2002


“And the peace of God, which surpasses all

understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)

In the midst of this holy season of Great Lent, our souls are troubled deeply by the escalation of hostilities in the land where our Lord has walked, where the shadow of the Prince of Peace, moved upon the ancient roads of Israel.

In one voice, we, the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America, address this appeal to the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, for reconciliation, justice and peace in the Holy Land. To every Palestinian and Israeli citizen who is praying for an end to the violence, we extend to you the prayers and solidarity of our faithful in America.

Churches, mosques and temples are constructed as houses of prayer. The desecration and destruction of these sacred buildings, historic edifices and treasures of humanity, cannot be tolerated and must cease immediately. We urge a halt to all aggression against all religious sites. We urge for freedom of access to the faithful and religious leaders related to their places of worship.

We deplore the unprecedented escalation of violence, and the senseless destructions of lives and infrastructures. We urge the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to abide strictly by the United Nations Resolutions 194, 242, 338, 425 and 1402 which represent international legitimacy.

In unison we raise our voice of supplication to the Government of Israel and to the Palestinian Authority for a cessation of actions that bring violence and death to innocent people. We issue our supplication because we agree with our brothers, the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land, who indicated in their most recent letter that the key to any future and lasting peace is in the hands of the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority. After eighteen months of death and destruction, leaders from both sides must see that war and violence has settled nothing. Only meaningful negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis alike, whom God has destined to live as partners in this holy place, can ensure a future promising security, justice and peace in a land where three great monotheistic religions are called to coexist.

As we Orthodox Christians prepare for the coming of Pascha, the Feast of Feasts, our Lenten prayer is for peace in the Holy Land. To our Christian, Jewish and Muslim friends living through this horror, we cry with the Psalmist who wrote, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within you towers.’ (psalm 122:6).

Peace and Love to all and for all.