May 19, 2002 : CMSM and LCWR -- Peace in the Middle East
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where Jesus’ friends had gathered because they were afraid, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
To Our Brothers and Sisters Gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost,
As you gather today, Pentecost, to pray for peace, we, the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, representing the near 100,000 vowed sisters, brothers, and priests in the United States, wish to extend to you our prayerful support and solidarity.
In Jerusalem, where Jesus gave the gift of the Spirit to the early Church, you call on the same Spirit to once again stir the hearts and minds of people who are separated by fear, distrust, and the inability to speak and hear one another with respect and understanding.
At the first Pentecost, Jesus gave a gift of peace to those living in fear. It enabled people of different languages and cultures to listen to one another, to be reconciled, and to engage in the mission of bringing peace and reconciliation to the world. Jerusalem was the center from which flowed the gift of the Spirit that could renew the face of the earth.
Today Jerusalem and the Holy Land are once again places where people live in fear, where they are unable to speak to each other, where cultures and faith separate the People of the One God. Jews, Christians, and Muslims call this land “home.” Yet in this “home” people are forced into hiding because of violence and oppression.
What is needed today is a new Pentecost. The prophet Joel said “For thus says the Most High: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, the old shall dream dreams, and the young shall see visions.” In the midst of fear and suffering, oppression and violence, new visions and new dreams are needed in order to bring a just and lasting peace to the people living in the region – Israelis and Palestinians; Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Prophetic words must be spoken to our leaders.
Now is the time for people of faith to speak to the world. In recent weeks we have seen that political and military actions alone will not bring about peace. Acts of violence breed more violence and create an atmosphere of fear and hatred.
At this time we join you in grieving for the hundreds who have died, those who have been injured, those who have been displaced by the destruction of their homes. We call upon the leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian people to end the violence and to begin negotiations that will lead to a just and lasting peace.
We also join you in prayer that the Spirit given to the people on the first Pentecost will be poured out into all of our hearts and minds and the hearts and minds of all people who seek peace, justice, and dignity of each person called into being by the One God. Our hearts are open to the God who has chosen this land to reveal our common humanity, the God who has invited us all to find a home in Jerusalem.
Be assured not only of our prayers, but our actions, as well. We will continue to urge our government to support and take effective action in implementing United Nations Security Council Resolutions that call for an immediate end to the violence, an end to the occupation, and a resumption of negotiations that will lead to an effective and just peace in the region. We know that there will be no peace until both Israelis and Palestinians can live secure in their own homelands and we will urge our government to maintain that goal in U.S. policy.
On this Pentecost we join you in praying for peace and offer our support to forge new paths to peace. May the Spirit that rushed upon the people of Jerusalem like a mighty wind once again rush upon us and fill us with new visions of peace that will take root in our hearts and flourish in our actions.