The church leaders' letter to President Bush was delivered yesterday to all Senate and House offices. It is also the basis of an ad in the January 30th edition of Roll Call , a widely read publication on Capitol Hill. CMEP encourages advocates to contact their Congressional offices to raise up the main points of the letter. In the new political climate on Capitol Hill, this is a good opportunity to urge bi- partisan work towards a resolution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict that, as stated by President Bush in his 2007 State of the Union address, results in two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.
The full text follows:
Dear Mr President,
As leaders of churches and Christian institutions in the United States, we bring you greetings for the New Year and encouragement as you meet the challenges that face our nation and the global community. Even though we are from a wide range of Christian traditions ? Orthodox, Catholic, mainstream and evangelical Protestants ? we stand close together in our hopes and prayers for peace in the land we all call Holy and for the reconciliation of the children of Abraham ? Jews, Christians and Muslims.
We come to you with two interrelated appeals that are central to our faith-motivated quest for peace with justice. First, we ask that you make Israeli- Palestinian peacemaking, in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace initiative, an urgent priority for your Administration. We recognize the great many difficulties and struggles that the people of the Middle East region must confront and the heavy responsibilities that fall upon you to help restore hope for a better future for them and for the citizens of the United States. We know that many view the Israeli-Palestinian situation as the most intractable in our troubled world, but we know that when it is resolved, the positive repercussions will go well beyond that small geographic area.
We commend your vision of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living as a peaceful neighbour alongside the state of Israel, with both nations secure and recognized by their neighbours. With your active engagement, this vision could reignite a passion for peace that can overcome the appeal of violence, vengeance and exclusivity. The United States and the world will become safer as confidence grows that the U.S. Is willing to take leadership and work cooperatively with the United Nations and other nations to resolve this conflict.
We bring to you our deepening concern for the welfare and future of the Palestinian Christian community. A small but vital part of the Palestinian society, Christians are rapidly emigrating to countries where they can gain the economic and physical security that is denied all Palestinians living under occupation. The future of the Palestinian Christians requires a solution to the conflict that will allow both peoples ? Israelis and Palestinians - to live side-by- side in two states where all enjoy justice, peace and security.
The Palestinian Christian leaders have asked us to bring to your attention the very grave situation of Jerusalem. They remind us that Jerusalem is the location of "not only historical memories and sacred places of pilgrimage, but also living communities of believers." With the construction by Israel of the separation barrier, many of the faithful ? both Christians and Muslims ? are excluded from the Holy City, and Jerusalem is severed from Bethlehem. Our second appeal is for you to work with Israelis, Palestinians and the international community to guarantee access to Jerusalem's Holy Places and religious liberty for all peoples. Resolving the status of Jerusalem is key to achieving a workable two- state solution.
Mr President, as this New Year begins, we encourage you to maintain the faith, the courage and the resolve to work with other world leaders toward negotiations that guarantee two viable and secure states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by- side and sharing Jerusalem. For guidance we look to the examples of the great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah who declared that God calls all nations and all people to do justice to one another. We join in praying for peace in the Holy Land and at home.
The Most Rev. Archbishop Barsamian - Primate, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
+Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos - Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson,
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
Are joined by:
The Rt. Rev. Wayne Burkette, President, Provincial Elders' Conference Moravian Church in America, Southern Province
Simone Campbell, SSS , Executive Director NETWORK
Tony Campolo, Founder, Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.
Sister Mary Dacey, SSJ, President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Marie Dennis, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Rev. Robert Edgar, General Secretary,
National Council of Churches
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary, Reformed Church in America
Ken Hackett, President Catholic Relief Services
Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey, Executive Director, Alliance of Baptists
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, President, Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church
Very Rev. Dominic Izzo, OP, President,
Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes
Rev. Phillip L. Jones, Director, Washington Office
Church of the Brethren
Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick,
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Michael E. Livingston,
Executive Director, International Council of Community Churches,
President, National Council of Churches
Albert C. Lobe, Interim Executive Director
Mennonite Central Committee
E. Earl McCloud, Jr. Bishop, Office of Ecumenical & Urban Affairs, African Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director & CEO
,Church World Service
Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches U.S.A.
Richard J. Mouw, President, Fuller Seminary
David Neff, Editor and Vice-President, Christianity Today
Leonard Rodgers, Executive Director,
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Br. Mark Schroeder, OFM, President, Franciscan Friars (OFM), English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council Metropolitan.
PHILIP Saliba, Primate,
Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America
Ambassador Robert A. Seiple
Former Ambassador-at-Large for International
Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action
Rev. William G. Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General, CNEWA
President, Pontifical Mission for Palestine
The Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Joe Volk, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jim Wallis, CEO, Sojourners/Call to Renewal
The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Corinne Whitlatch, Executive Director
Churches for Middle East Peace
Bishop Gabino Zavala, Bishop President,
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement
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