Christian Leaders of Jerusalem Appeal for Peace

Ask for End to "Infernal Cycle" of Violence

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JERUSALEM, MARCH 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem appealed for an end to the "infernal cycle" of violence between Israel and the Palestinians that continues to affect the Middle East.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Torkom Manooghian, the Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, and Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, sent letters of condolence Friday to the Palestinian and Israeli leaders after an escalation in violence killed more than 130 Palestinians and 5 Israelis.

Since late February, Israel has been launching an offensive to stop the Islamist group Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. Israeli officials have halted military operations since Wednesday after rocket and mortar attacks launched from Gaza sharply dropped.

In the note to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the religious leaders stated their hope to see "the unity of the Palestinian people" restored.

The representatives of the Christian Churches offered their condolences “for all the victims who have fallen and are still falling in this wave of violence in Gaza.”

The note said, "We know that you do not spare any effort in your attempts to reach a comprehensive and just peace.

"Nevertheless, we urge you to do whatever possible to find rapid and opportune ways to bring back the unity of the Palestinian people: Heal all the wounds, in order that the tragedy of which all of us are victims, today more than ever, will come to an end."

The leaders urged Abbas to work “in efficient ways to reach agreement with the concerned Israeli authorities to stop all violence, so as to work for the achievement of peace."

Aware of the “grave difficulties” of the current situation, they expressed their hope that all involved will “work for the achievement of peace.”

Victims

In the note sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the patriarchs and heads of the Churches in Jerusalem asked for “ways to put an end to all violence so as to free all of us from the infernal cycle of violence of which we are all victims.”

After expressing their deep sorrow for the death of eight theology students from the “Merkaz Harav Yeshiva” rabbinical school in Jerusalem last Thursday, the leaders of the Christian Churches reiterated their “determination to work for peace and for an end to all violence.”

They wrote: "Only peace is needed and new ways must be found for the land called to be holy by the Almighty for the Jewish people and for the Palestinians.

"We pray that God will inspire all of us to submit to his ways in order to reach a comprehensive and just peace with total security for you and for all."