Churches across the globe joined in praying and fasting for a peaceful end to the violence on Tuesday 17th October.
An ecumenical group of church leaders in Jerusalem called for a day of prayer and fasting around the world in response to the escalating conflict in the Middle East.
Christian leaders in Jerusalem have said this year that increasing restrictions by Israeli authorities as well as hostility and attacks by Jews in the holy city put their communities at risk.
A church source in Jerusalem expressed concern for their fellow believers still in Gaza where several hundred people have taken refuge in two churches to escape Israeli bombing.
The local Christians, primarily Palestinian, are caught up in the Israel-Palestinian conflict like everyone else, but find themselves in a particularly delicate position as a tiny religious minority among Palestinians.
They represent no more than two per cent of the population of the Holy Land, according to the Latin Patriarchate.
On Tuesday, the patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem encouraged Christians across the world to join them in fasting and praying for the humanitarian crisis facing the Holy Land.
In a recent statement the church leaders said: “our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic level and death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.”
The body has called upon all parties to de-escalate the war in order to save innocent lives.
The International Union of Superiors General invited its members to observe the day of fasting and prayer, saying in a message to members that “in this moment of deep concern and sorrow for the situation we are facing, we wish to share a ray of hope.” “This is a time when we want to come together as a global community, praying together for a world where peace prevails over violence, justice over discord, and reconciliation over hatred,” they said. “United in prayer, we can bring our desire for peace and justice to God the Father.”
The World Council of Churches has also rallied around the observance inviting all member Churches, and people of goodwill to unite in prayers for peace, for aid to those suffering, and for those who have lost loved ones.
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum says they are praying “without ceasing” for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war.
“We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers in our countries and around the world, For we are in dire need or hearts that love, show mercy, and are willing to live in unity with others – hearts that respect human dignity and choose life rather than death.”
The Anglican Communion (AC) and The World Council of Churches (WCC) have also joined the call.
On Monday the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo said he “echoed” Hosam’s call for the pursuit of “peaceful and diplomatic solutions” to achieve a two-state solution.
He added: “and the realisation of the dream of both Israelis and Palestinians to enjoy living in freedom, justice, and peace.”
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: AFP)