On behalf of the women and men religious of the United States we are writing to you at this time of great tragedy and trial in your region. We have received your appeals and the reports that come not only from your office but also from others who are eyewitnesses to the effects of the violence and terror in the Holy Land.
We are shocked by the violence taking place in the Holy Land at this time. Every day we read of the deaths of civilians because of suicide bombings and the shelling of civilian areas. Our hearts are moved with sorrow for the great loss of life and the fear under which the people of the region are living. We are mindful of our own country’s contribution to the crisis by supplying aid and equipment to the Israeli military and the weak condemnations of Israeli violence.
We extend the prayers of the religious in the U.S. to you and all in the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians; Jews, Christians, and Muslims, who are suffering under the constant fear of violence and terror. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones because of suicide bombings or the disproportionate use of military power. The scriptures command us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray not only for peace in Jerusalem but in the entire region.
We also express our solidarity for the work you are doing during at this time to call for peace. The Peace March earlier this week and your offer to serve as a mediator between the two sides are examples of hope in the midst of the tragedy that is taking place. You encourage us to take our own actions here in the United States.
Our Conferences have sent a letter to President Bush urging him to take effective and appropriate actions to call for an end to the violence and renewal of negotiations that will lead to a lasting and just peace in the Holy Land. We are also working with our colleagues in the U.S. to provide balanced and accurate information to our members and to the people in the U.S. about the current crisis. Also with our colleagues we are seeking meetings with government officials to urge them to not only support but take effective action to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1402 calling on both the Israelis and Palestinians to move immediately to a ceasefire.
In his own time Jesus, speaking to the people of the Holy Land who lived in fear and occupation said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” During this time of crisis in the Holy Land we commit ourselves to working with you to seek new paths of peace and justice, to speak out as you have asked us, and to help build bridges of understanding which will give birth to hope and human dignity for the people of the Holy Land.
Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP
Canice Connors, O.F.M.Conv.