Day of Fasting Urged for Peace in Holy Land

Appeal by Bishops of North Africa and Arab Countries

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ROME, OCT. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Bishops of North Africa and Arab countries made an appeal to Churches worldwide to show more commitment to peace in the Holy Land.



The prelates proposed to Catholics throughout the world to observe a day of fasting and prayer for this intention on Dec. 22.

The appeal was made as a conclusion of last week's meeting of the Conference of Bishops of the Region of North Africa (CERNA) and the Conference of Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions (CELRA).

The bishops' primary concern was the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land.

Jews, Christians and Muslims in that region, they said, feel "incapable of ending the conflict, fettered as they are in a spiral of cruel and irrational violence."

"The conflict in the Holy Land is the concern of all Christians, who are aware that their spiritual roots lie in the land of Christ's redemption," the bishops explained in the final statement of their meeting. The exhortation was signed by 22 bishops of the region.

The president of CELRA is Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem. The president of CERNA is Archbishop Fouad Twal of Tunis.

"We believe that the Churches can do still more," the bishops said in their statement. "If all the Churches of the world recognize their duty toward the Holy Land, and if they all join together in common and concerted action to sensitize their governments, their people and the international community, their intervention will become a decisive factor in the attainment of peace, justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land."

"Our Churches have received from the Lord a ministry of reconciliation," they continued. "We do not call you to take one side against another. On the contrary, we want you to help both sides find the way to reconciliation.

"We are calling for a new awakening in the Churches of the world, for a strong voice to be raised to promote peace in this Holy Land, where both peoples are in need of outside help in order to find peace and reconciliation.

"We, the bishops of the two conferences, propose to our communities that Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2004, be a day of fasting and prayer for this intention. We ask you to unite with us, together with your own communities, in this or in any other initiative."

Among those signing the document were Archbishop Henri Teissier of Algiers and Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad.