We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rabbi Brant Rosen interviews the Rev. Naim Ateek

Land and Liberation: An Interview with Reverend Naim Ateek


This past weekend, I had the great pleasure to engage in an extended interview with Reverend Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, during a brief visit he made to Chicago. I’ve known Rev. Ateek for several years and am honored to call him a friend and colleague – and I’ve written before about his important work in the development of Palestinian liberation theology.  Since he’s been the object of unrelenting attack by the Jewish institutional establishment, I was particularly grateful for the opportunity to model a different kind of Jewish-Christian engagement on his life and his work.

An edited version of our conversation follows here:

Brant Rosen: Can you tell me how you discovered Liberation Theology in a Palestinian context?

Naim Ateek: You know, sometimes I feel it discovered me rather than me discovering it. I felt maybe God was preparing me for this. I had no idea; it was not like a conscious decision on my part that this was where I wanted to go. I felt that God was throughout my ministry leading me. It all started, I guess in the fact that even as a little boy, I always wanted to be a pastor. That was always very definite. And I could go back to different stages in my life and where people tried to guide me in another direction it was very clear. I would say no, I know exactly what God wants me to be – or what Christ wants me to be. And that stayed with me throughout my life.

BR: You felt “called,” in other words?

NA: Yes, the call was very clear to me which in one sense has been a blessing for me – but it would also make me very harsh when I would find some people who did not have that kind of a call. Though mentally speaking, of course, God calls people in so many different ways, but for me it was so clear in the way the call came. And there are Biblical examples, as you know. So when I went back home after seminary I was just a pastor of a church, doing the ministry.

BR: Did you initially see your work as involving political activism as well or was it largely pastoral?
NA: In the beginning I was not (a political activist). I had my story, as an eleven year old boy – that was with me…

BR: As an eleven year old boy living through the Nakba?

NA: Yes, when we were driven out of (my family’s village of) Beisan, that was part of my background, so I was always interested and committed to justice, but I was not preaching it, not active in it…

BR: You didn’t connect it to your ministry at that point…

NA: I would in a conversation with my people and I would always emphasize it but it was not the only emphasis. It was a pastoral ministry. There were so many problems within the congregation. I did quite a bit of counseling.

BR: Where was your first congregation?

NA: Shefa-’Amr, which is close to Nazareth. It was a small town at the time – now it’s a big city… So there were certain stages. Like at the very beginning, I always thought about the importance of ecumenical work. I never really saw myself only as focusing on an Episcopal or an Anglican congregation although that was my charge. But even in Shefa-’Amr, the Anglican or Episcopal church was very small compared say, to the Melkites, the Greek Catholics, but I opened it up ecumenically. I had a good relationship with the Roman Catholic priest and with the Melkite priest and people were coming into the church I was serving, so from the very beginning of my ministry I was working ecumenically.

Then I left (Shefa-’Amr) and went to Haifa and in Haifa, again, though very conscious about the importance of justice and ecumenical ministry.

BR: What year was this?

NA: 1972. And again, immediately I related to the other clergy, the other priests. I recall there was an elderly Lebanese priest, a Melkite. I went to him and said we need to start ecumenical work here. And I said, if I call a meeting nobody will listen to me. I’m still young and I’m still new here. I’ll do all the work – you just get us together. And he did. Wonderful, wonderful guy. A man of God, really, in all senses of the word. And we had some of the most wonderful ecumenical work that just flowered in that place, with great memories. The only sad thing was that I was there for twelve or thirteen years and when I left, it died. Which was very sad because they were all such wonderful clergy, but you just needed someone to do the “donkey work,” you know?

So anyway I see these stages as if God was preparing me. And then in 1985 I was forced to leave Haifa by the Bishop and go to Jerusalem. I really did not want to. God was blessing the ministry in Haifa – I did not need to go anywhere. My wife loved Haifa, she did not want to leave, she begged the Bishop to keep us in Haifa. He said no, I want Naim at (St. George’s) Cathedral. So we left and less than two years later the First Intifada happened. And that (was) as if God said “Now.” And that opened up the whole thing. From then on, it was justice. So that’s really the way it started for me. I see these signposts, these stages.

BR: Were you familiar with liberation theology at this time?

NA: Not much. Because when I was in seminary in the 1960s, I wasn’t really aware of it. And you know, it started in the 60s, at least with Gustavo (Gutierrez) and we had no courses about it at the time.

BR: So did you discover Latin American liberation theology after you had started to develop Palestinian liberation theology?

NA: Yeah, it’s really very interesting because I always said, I only needed the Bible and the context. You know, there was the context, I was living in it, so what did the Bible say about my context? That’s liberation theology. And so the intifada started and almost from the very beginning I felt that I needed to contribute. And so I started preaching almost every Sunday and I would find within the lectionary, almost within every text, something to say about justice.

And then immediately I started inviting people to stay after church one hour to discuss the sermon. Because I was taking things that were happening every day during the intifada and I was (asking) what is our response as Christians to what’s really happening there? So I was trying to be true to the Gospel in one sense and at the same time very contextual in trying to meet people’s needs. But you know, the Gospel would challenge peoples’ ideas or minds regarding, for instance violence and non-violence. So during discussion after church people would really argue with me. It was unbelievable, unbelievable.

BR: What were some of the arguments?

NA: Well the Palestinians were like everybody else: they were bringing their stories from the last week. Whatever happened, you know, their neighbor was picked up by the soldiers, he’s in jail, or somebody was killed. And so people were telling their stories – it was also like therapy and we would deal with it. And I’ll tell you: Palestinian liberation theology started in those meetings, through those stories and people saying OK, how would Jesus respond? Because he was living under occupation.  And so we started relating everything: “OK, Jesus was under the occupation. How did he behave? What can you find in the Gospels?  You know, he was born under occupation, he lived all his life under occupation and he was killed by occupation forces. How can he help us, living under occupation?” That’s when Palestinian liberation theology began to come to life. And so we did it throughout the intifada. Every Sunday.

So that’s really the way Palestinian Liberation Theology got started: after church in St. George’s in that little hall. And it just started developing. I had some rich experiences from there. I still remember when I was preaching on loving one’s enemy which was the text for that Sunday and this woman, this wonderful woman, coming out of church looked at me, we shook hands at the door and I know she liked me very much. I was very close to the congregation, I used to visit them quite a bit.  She looked at me and she said, “I cannot love the Jews”… So I said “Selma, if you don’t like the Gospel, write the Gospel. I want to read it. I want to know what you have to say.”

And so we took that discussion into (our conversation after the service) and what was so beautiful was that it was not me. It was them – the whole congregation was speaking and discussing about this and many of them, they were responding to her. And at the end we said “Selma, the Gospel is trying to pull you out – and you are pulling the Gospel down. I’m not telling you you have to love the Israelis. Just try it. Think about it.
And it was several weeks later, she came back and she said, “I’m trying, I’m trying.” At one point she said, “I think I know what Jesus is talking about.” So it was so beautiful, these things that were taking place there and I think it revitalized my whole ministry. And then some people started hearing about it so we had many people come to church who were not members. And some of them even if they might skip the service, they would stay for the discussion. Anyway that’s the way things really started.

BR: When did you make the transition from the theology emerging out of people’s stories in discussion groups to your writing systematic liberation theology from a Palestinian point of view?

NA: Well actually, while this was happening, I already had a manuscript for (my first book) “Justice and Only Justice.” I had to leave the congregation for a while to finalize the text. I took all of my experiences and when to Orbis Books in Maryknoll, in New York and they hosted me and I was there maybe a month or two. Actually, I had a Jewish editor, she was working there – she was wonderful. And they asked me, and I said, “No, I want her” because she asked me the right questions. So I worked with her and I wrote about my experiences in Jerusalem and the intifada and I put it into the manuscript I already had and added several chapters and so on. It came out in 1989, you see, while the intifada was still going on. And that’s when I chose the term “Palestinian liberation theology.” I think it was then, at that time, it so happened that Gustavo Gutierrez was visiting Orbis and we got to know each other and I talked to him about (my work).

BR: So if someone asked you in a nutshell what is Palestinian liberation theology, what would your definition be?

NA: I would say it’s really just living faith in our context and trying to make it relevant to what it means to be a Christian living at a particular time in a particular context. What does faith mean to us? Not just faith as in “I believe” but putting your faith into practice, into action in everyday life. That’s the way I would really see it: a very practical way of living faith, whether it’s in one’s family or in one’s society or in one’s community or in the world. It’s very contextual in that sense.

But although I use the words “context” and “contextual” I chose the word “liberation,” not “contextual theology” because I believe liberation makes it much bigger, much more open than only my context. Because if it is true liberation theology, it has to apply to every context of oppression anywhere in the world. That’s why I can identify, for example, with people in South Africa.

BR: One of the things that struck me when I read “Justice, and Only Justice” was that Christianity was born, as you put it, out of the context of occupation, but then after Constantine, Christianity became the religion of an empire.

NA: Yes.

BR: But now, once again you’ve found yourself in the context of living under another empire – and for Palestinian Christians, Christianity has returned to its origins, as it were.  

NA: Yes, and that’s why I think we, as Palestinians living under occupation, have something to say to our brothers and sisters who are living under empire.

BR: When did you found Sabeel?

NA: Officially in 1992 or 1993. I don’t have a very specific date because the ideas started with the intifada and then in 1989 the book came out. Then the book helped me get a group together which included women and men and that’s when (Elias) Chacour got involved and others became involved and we called ourselves PLT – Palestinian Liberation Theology. But I didn’t know where God was leading me, so it was a discerning period.

The first conference was 1990 but we were not known as Sabeel. So we continued after the conference and said, “What are we going to do?” and the group decided “I think we need to continue” and by then I started calling for meetings for people using some of the ideas in the book and relating those to people.   And so we were having these almost-regular meetings with ecumenical groups – not only my own congregation – and that was the discerning period. Where was God going to lead us? Should we just stop? I wrote a book – lots of people write books – but should we go on?  And then the group decided no we need to go on, let’s continue.

When we started thinking about the second conference, we decided we needed a name. I still remember the way we went about it. Sabeel means two things in Arabic. It means “the way,” which is very close to “shvil” in Hebrew and it also means “spring of water.” And I still remember when we were sitting as a community and putting together a list of names, I was so sad because some of the names that I really liked were already taken by other groups, mainly political groups. Then somebody – I don’t know who it was now – mentioned Sabeel and it just clicked because I immediately thought that according to the Book of Acts, the early Christian community, before they were Christians, they were known as “the people of the way.” So I felt immediately, “That’s it!” And we talked about it and we agreed and the second conference was in 1996 and from then on, every couple of years we had a conference. But you can see that from 1990 to 1996, that was the discerning period.

BR: When did it become clear to you that Sabeel’s work was attracting the attention of certain quarters of the Jewish community? Was it soon after you started or did it happen more gradually?

NA: I don’t know, I would have to think about which views we are talking about…

BR: Well there are many in what I would call the Jewish establishment world who are very threatened by Palestinian liberation theology and some of your work. To their mind, it undoes some of the work of Jewish-Christian dialogue of the past several decades. How would you respond to that? What is your response to these critiques of the organized Jewish community?

NA: I have to say that “Justice and Only Justice” was my embarking on the way. It was like something that helped me grow or begin to think, to reflect more. And many times I would say that most of these ideas came out of the people themselves, in conversation and discussion. So in writing this and thinking about this, I started to see other things in light of liberation theology. You see, I was involved in the World Council of Churches on Jewish-Christian discussions… I and another Palestinian Christian friend of mine and we were the only indigenous people there. Everyone else were mainly Americans and Europeans…

This was before I did my graduate work, in the end of the 1970s. And through these (discussions) I was aware of the Jewish side of things, but in those days the big thing was the Holocaust. Everything was the Holocaust. And many times they would say things – and in my heart, I knew something was wrong. But I did not have the knowledge of really trying to argue with them.

BR: How would you articulate that now?

NA: Well, they could see the Holocaust and they would talk about it all the time, but they could not see that what happened after the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel, how it affected the Palestinian people. We had disappeared. The Palestinians were not there. You lived with these scholars – mainly very good scholars – I admired them because in those days I was just a simple pastor of a church and these guys had done research and so on. Living in their world of the Holocaust and the Jewish people and yet completely unaware of what had happened to the Palestinian people and what that meant.

And so here is little me and my friend, trying to argue saying, “Yes, but look what is happening. We know the tragedy of the Holocaust, but look at this.” And they could not see it. But in retrospect now this is very important to me. It was all part of almost God’s preparing me for this type of thinking because I did not even think this way. I was not aware of it yet.

BR: In “Justice and Only Justice” and other writings, you’ve written a great deal about how Zionism is in many ways a theological retrogression back to a more tribal/nationalist form of Judaism. Could you talk more about how Judaism in general fits into your theological world view as a Palestinian Christian?

NA: The way I understand it, with the background of the Hebrew Scriptures, two religions come out. One of them is Christianity and one is Rabbinic Judaism. Their source is our Old Testament, your Jewish Hebrew Scriptures so I know their source… but I go that way (points in one direction), I don’t know that way (points in another direction).

BR: But of course your Jewish critics have accused you of supersessionism – the ideology that teaches your way has superseded the Rabbinic Jewish way. So what is your response to those critics?

NA: Well, I would say it is true that if you read the New Testament, there is supersessionism. There is. And that’s how the early church, I think, understood it – that they are really the “New Israel…” And maybe in one point in my past I would try to be very defensive about it or try to really explain it. Now I’ve come to the point where I say no, that’s the way the early church really understood it. But I don’t have to stick to it today – today I have a different way of interpreting this.

BR: How would you interpret it today?

NA: I would interpret it by saying the fact is God did not end God’s relationship with the Jewish people – and we did not really replace them. To begin with, practically speaking, they’re still here. It’s not like the Book of Letters to the Hebrews said, that they’re gone, disappeared. They did not disappear. And you could even critique some of those passages within the New Testament and I know these passages very well. And recently I’ve written something to the Dutch, because there are so many Dutch Christian Zionists… and I think they were testing me and so I wrote a piece and said today this is what I believe: we did not replace the Jewish people. God still continues… and not only with the Jews. God deals with all peoples…

BR: Christians, Jews and and many other religions as well.

NA: And many others as well. Exactly. So Judaism is a religion like other religions, like Christianity is a religion, so like it or not, we are all different religions and God is working with all of us in different ways. Always prodding us to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. And that’s the way I understand it. It doesn’t mean I’ve always understood it that way, but again that’s part of my journey in my faith. And it’s a journey that continues.

BR: When you come across texts in the New Testament tradition that you find problematic, whether they’re supersessionist texts or texts that are just exceptionalist in general, how do you deal with them?

NA: Nowadays, if I don’t understand it, I say they don’t speak to me. If I read a problematic text, for example in Matthew, I might be able to understand it more in another Gospel, say in Luke. I don’t know if it was touched by somebody later on or by the early church as result of experiences during that period. So I read the New Testament very critically in that sense because I’m indebted to many good scholars. Now sometimes you read a scholar and you don’t agree with him, but sometimes you agree. Again, that’s part of our human tendencies. So I might find myself closer to this interpretation than others. Some scholars I think are way out and I can’t relate to them, but at the same time I would find myself closer to this critical scholarship than more evangelical literal (interpretations). Maybe I was there as a boy growing up but I’m not there today.

So I read the New Testament, as the Old Testament, very critically. There are ideas in both that I learn from and that speak to me today and there are some that don’t speak to me at all. But I’ll tell you one thing that I don’t think we’ve touched on yet: In my journey… I used to think that the Hebrew Scriptures could not answer the whole question of faith… For me as a Christian, I thought that you don’t get the answers in the Old Testament and that you have to go to the New Testament. This is one of the big points that I make in my new book. I now feel that within the Old Testament itself there is a great development in religious thought. That has become very exciting to me. It’s much more developed in my thinking. I can analyze the tribal from the more universal…

BR: …within the Hebrew Scriptures themselves?

NA: Yes, and this for me is a great discovery. I read everything I can get a hold of in terms of this and I would love to talk to some Old Testament scholars about these things. I can see for example, part of what I would call the tribal period, where it says “you go to the land and you drive the people out.” But then I see that after the exile there was a religious thought that has developed beautifully – so in Ezekiel (47: 21-23), although I can critique some of the words he is using, the idea behind it is wonderful. He’s saying “you’ve got to live with the people of the land.”  So I can see the progression of this religious thought.

I don’t know if I mentioned this to you, but in developing my theology of Jerusalem I discovered verses from Nehemiah (2:20) – awful, just awful, because he’s saying “Jerusalem belongs only to us. You guys have no claim, no historic right, no share.” The three words: “no share, no historic right, no claim” over Jerusalem.

BR: Sounds familiar…

NA: Exactly. But then I discovered Psalm 87. It’s amazing. Picture it: God is standing in the entrance of Jerusalem and embracing or welcoming the Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Philistines. All the guys, (and God) is saying “You were all born here. You were born in Jerusalem.” Unbelievable.

So this is now the way I’m looking at the text. I see the development of religious thought within the Hebrew Scriptures itself without getting to the New Testament. In the past, I would not talk about the Old Testament that way.

BR: Certainly the impression, I think, of many of your critics is that you claim the Old Testament is tribal and the New Testament is universal.

NA: Yes. Now it has changed. I see the tribal. But the change takes place within the text – especially after the exile. And now I’m discovering all these texts that have been written after the exile. I now I understand why for me the story of Jonah becomes the epitome of all of this, because it is one of the latest books of the Hebrew Scriptures and I see the beauty of this.

BR: And perhaps a greater sensitivity to the ways these texts are misused in Israel today.

NA: Yes, for me now Zionism, the way it’s been practiced and continues to be practiced in Israel, continues to live within the tribal, which is sad because even within the Jewish Bible this was transformed, transcended. The tribal period was transcended in some of the writings of Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel.

BR: I think a lot of it has to do with the Holocaust. The trauma of the Holocaust had the effect of causing many Jews to become, in a sense, more tribal. In other words, “What is our response to this tragic cataclysm? To know that the world is a dangerous place. We can’t depend upon the world, we can’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the world, we have to take care of our own, we need a state of our own, we need our own army.”  I think in many ways the Holocaust was a kind of an engine that drove us back to the tribal. Which is tragic because it is a very human reaction. 

But there are other reactions as well. I think we’re starting to see the pendulum swing back in the other direction in my community. Invariably when you think you’re solving one problem you’re really only creating another. And in this case it was a problem that was solved on the backs of the Palestinian people.  

At any rate, that’s another interview we can have someday. Thank you so much!

Source: http://rabbibrant.com/2014/03/24/land-and-liberation-an-interview-with-reverend-naim-ateek/

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pax Christi International Peace Award 2014: Jesuit Refugee Service Syria


Pax Christi International Peace Award 2014

Jesuit Refugee Service Syria


The 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award* has been granted to the Jesuit Refugee Service Syria (JRS Syria) for its outstanding dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians since the war began in 2011**. Established in 1988, the Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and non-violence in different parts of the world.

JRS Syria belongs to an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS programmes are found in more than 50 countries, providing assistance to refugees in camps and cities, individuals displaced within their own countries, asylum seekers in cities and to those held in detention centres.

In the Middle East and North Africa, JRS began its work in 2008 in response to the huge number of Iraqi refugees fleeing the conflict in their country. Following the violent events in Syria from 2011 onwards, JRS Syria is now mainly focusing on emergency relief to those in greatest need, medical support and educational activities to enhance reconciliation and co-existence amongst people of different socio-economic and faith backgrounds.

Currently, JRS emergency relief consists of food support, provision of hygiene kits and non-food items, basic healthcare, shelter management and rent support. Fundamental to the mission of JRS Syria is the educational and psychosocial support that is offered to 9,800 children and women. Other services include legal and medical referrals, family visits, and small livelihood projects. In total, more than 300,000 people are helped by JRS in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and the coastal areas of Syria.

JRS Syria helps civil society to resist the logic of war and to survive the violence that threatens to overwhelm and destroy communities. Perhaps the most obvious challenge facing JRS, as a faith-based organisation, is that religion plays such a significant role in the Middle East, often as a mark of difference, exploited to spark conflict. Bringing people together is not easy in such a scenario. The JRS teams are composed of people of different faiths, of national staff and international volunteers, who serve all without distinction. JRS strives to serve all marginalised groups, be they Muslims or Christians. In this way, inter-religious dialogue remains at the heart of JRS daily activities.

The work of JRS is guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, independence, impartiality and neutrality. JRS is inspired by the core values of compassion, justice, participation, solidarity, hospitality, dignity and hope.

Through this award, Pax Christi International acknowledges JRS Syria’s tireless efforts in providing services to vulnerable people affected by conflict, and welcomes the organisation’s aim of expanding its activities to promoting peace and reconciliation among divided communities in Syria. At the same time, the award symbolically honours humanitarian workers – women and men, compassionately serving fellow Syrians suffering due to the effects of the three-year long civil war.

The Peace Award Ceremony will take place on 8 June 2014 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the context of the International Peace Event.

Brussels, 27 March 2014

[*] For more details on the Pax Christi International Peace Award and an overview of past laureates, visit: http://www.paxchristi.net/about-us/pax-christi-international-peace-awards
[**] Latest UN statistics account for more than 9 million Syrians in dire need of humanitarian assistance, including 6,5 million internally displaced persons and 2,6 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

Pilgrimage of His Holiness Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Pilgrimage of His Holiness Pope Francis  in the Holy Land
on the occasion of the
50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem
between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras
(May 24 – 26, 2014)
Program as of March 27, 2014
Saturday, May 24, 2014

08:15   Departure from Rome Fiumicino Airport for Amman
13:00   Arrival at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman
13:45   ARRIVAL CEREMONY in the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman
16:00   HOLY MASS at the International Stadium in Amman. Homily of the Holy Father
19:00   Visit to the Baptismal Site at Bethany beyond the Jordan
19:15   MEETING WITH REFUGEES AND DISABLED YOUNG PEOPLE in the Latin church at Bethany beyond the Jordan. Discourse of the Holy Father

Sunday, May 25, 2014

8:15     FAREWELL FROM JORDAN at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman
8:30     Departure by helicopter from the Queen Alia Internal Airport in Amman for Bethlehem
9:20     Arrival at the helicopter port of Bethlehem
9:30     ARRIVAL CEREMONY at the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem
10:00   MEETING WITH THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY – Discourse of the Holy Father
11:00   HOLY MASS in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Homily of the Holy Father
REGINA COELI PRAYER. Allocution of the Holy Father
13:30   Lunch with families from Palestine in the Franciscan Convent of Casa Nova in Bethlehem
15:45   FAREWELL FROM THE STATE OF PALESTINE at the helicopter port of Bethlehem
16:00   Departure by helicopter from the helicopter port of Bethlehem for Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv
16:30   ARRIVAL CEREMONY at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Discourse of the Holy Father
17:15   Transfer by helicopter to Jerusalem
17:45   Arrival at the helicopter port of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus
18:15   Private meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. Signing of a joint declaration.
19.00   ECUMENICAL MEETING on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. Discourse of the Holy Father
20:15   Dinner with the Patriarchs and Bishops and the Papal suite at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem

Monday, May 26, 2014

8:15     VISIT TO THE GRAND MUFTI OF JERUSALEM in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques. Discourse of the Holy Father
9:10     VISIT TO THE WESTERN WALL in Jerusalem
9:45     Laying a wreath at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem
10.00   VISIT TO YAD VASHEM in Jerusalem. Discourse of the Holy Father
10:45   COURTESY VISIT TO THE TWO CHIEF RABBIS at Heichal Shlomo Center in Jerusalem, next to the Jerusalem Great Synagogue. Discourse of the Holy Father
11:45   COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. Discourse of the Holy Father
13:30   Lunch, the Papal suite at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem
15:30   Private visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the building next to the Orthodox church of Viri Galileai on the Mount of Olives
16:00   MEETING WITH PRIESTS, MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS AND SEMINARIANS in the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Discourse of the Holy Father
17:20   HOLY MASS WITH THE ORDINARIES OF THE HOLY LAND AND THE PAPAL SUITE in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem. Homily of the Holy Father
19:30   Transfer by helicopter from the helicopter port on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv
20:00   FAREWELL FROM THE STATE OF ISRAEL at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv
20:15   Departure from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv for Ciampino Airport in Rome
23:00   Arrival at Ciampino Airport in Rome

Source: Unofficial Working Translation

Patriarch announces schedule for Pope’s visit

Conf de presse 

COMMUNIQUE – His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, addressed the journalists at a press conference  on March 27, 2014.  Below is the text of the Patriarch’s statement announcing the program for the visit of Pope Francis  in the Holy Land on May 24-26, 2014. 

Dear friends,

Welcome to the Latin Patriarchate. We are delighted that you are here so that we can share with you good news: the Holy Father, Pope Francis will be among us from May 24 to May 26, 2014.

The highlight of this pilgrimage will be the fulfillment of his wish on Sunday evening, May 25 in the Church of the Resurrection. The Pope announced on January 6, earlier this year: “God willing, I will be making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The main purpose is to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, which occurred exactly 50 years ago”. We await eagerly the embrace of the Holy Father with Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew as well as with our brothers here in Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos and Armenian Patriarch Noorhan and all the heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem. We are called to be one and the Pope is coming to remind us of this and renew the spirit of unity and fraternal love. The logo and the motto that have been chosen for this pilgrimage focus in on this desire for unity. The motto is “So that they may be one” and the logo shows the embrace of Saints Peter and Andrew, patrons of the Church in Rome and the Church in Constantinople.

The Holy Father will of course meet with the faithful of the Holy Land, most particularly in celebrations of the Holy Mass – in Amman and in Bethlehem. In Jerusalem, at the scene of the Last Supper, he will celebrate a special Mass with the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. There will also be occasions for him to meet with different groups of faithful: handicapped, refugees, men and women religious, seminarians and priests.
He will of course also pay his respects to our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters, visiting the Haram al-Sharif and the Western Wall. We seek our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters in dialogue in order to know one another better as God’s children and work together to bring justice and peace, pardon and reconciliation to our broken land.

Pope Francis is coming to visit three political realities – Jordan, Palestine and Israel. In each place he will meet with the heads of state, encouraging one and all in fair government for the benefit of all citizens and to work together to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the welfare of all and the prosperity of all. As head of state, the Holy Father will comply fully with the protocol fixed by each national authority. He will meet with the heads of state but will also reach out to those who are broken and hurting.

Our hope is that the Holy Father will inspire us to greater unity so that we are more courageous in breaking down barriers of enmity. Furthermore, we hope that he will inspire us all to greater solidarity especially with the poorest and the suffering. We are sure that he will strengthen us all in joy and hope. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Patriarch Fouad Twal

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pope Encourages Islamic-Christian Group Studying Common Devotion to Mary 8th Prayer Meeting Held in Lebanon on Feast of Annunciation

Pope Francis is encouraging Christians and Muslims to work together for peace by invoking together the Virgin Mary, as faithful of both creeds share a devotion to her.

Rome, March 26, 2014 (Zenit.org)

The 8th Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting was held Tuesday, feast of the Annunciation, in Beirut, Lebanon, and focused on the theme “Together around Mary, Our Lady."

The Solemnity of the Annunciation is marked by both Christians and Muslims and was declared a national holiday by the Lebanese government in 2010

The meeting was organized by the St. Joseph University Alumni Assocation and the College of Our Lady of Jamhour.

The Pope's message was give through Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who said the Holy Father was joyous at seeing "Christians and Muslims united in their devotion to the Virgin Mary,"

The Pontiff noted that "the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa is a blessed place where everyone can go to invoke her."

He also encouraged Christians and Muslims to “work together for peace and for the common good, thus contributing to the full development of the person and the edification of society," and entrusted the participants in the meeting “and all the inhabitants of Lebanon to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Protectress of Lebanon."

Mother of dialogue

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso, gave an address at the meeting called "The Virgin Mary and Islamic-Christian dialogue."

In his address, which focused both on the figure of Mary and on the mission of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Ayuso emphasised that the feast of 25 March was “a true example of the co-existence between Muslims and Christians that characterises Lebanese history, in the midst of so many difficulties, and which also constitutes an important example for many other nations”.

“Since Vatican Council II, the Catholic Church recognises that Muslims honour the Virgin mother of Jesus, Mary, and invoke her with piety. … Mary is mentioned various times in the Koran. Respect for her is so evident that when she is mentioned in Islam, it is usual to add 'Alayha l-salam' ('Peace be upon her'). Christians also willingly join in this invocation. I must also mention those shrines dedicated to Mary which welcome both Muslims and Christians. In particular, here in Lebanon, how can we forget the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa?”

“Devotion creates sentiments of friendship: it is a phenomenon open to everyone. The cultural experiences that our communities can share encourage collaboration, solidarity and mutual recognition as sons and daughters of a single God, members of the same human family. Therefore, the Church addresses the followers of Islam with esteem. During the last fifty years, a dialogue of friendship and mutual respect has been constructed”.

With reference to the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, he went on to explain that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “seeks to establish regular relationships with Muslim institutions and organisations, with the aim of promoting mutual understanding and trust, friendship and, where possible, collaboration. In fact, there exist agreements with various Muslim institutions enabling the possibility of holding periodical meetings, in accordance with the programmes and procedures approved by both parties. With regard to the methods of interreligious dialogue and, therefore, the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, we must recall that dialogue is a two-way form of communication. … It is based on witness of one's own faith and, at the same time, openness to the religion of the other. It is not a betrayal of the mission of the Church, and much less a new method of conversion to Christianity. The document 'Dialogue and Proclamation', published jointly by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 1991, identifies four different forms of interreligious dialogue: the dialogue of life, the dialogue of works, the dialogue of theological exchange and the dialogue of religious experience. These four forms demonstrate that it is not an experience confined to specialists”.

Fr. Ayuso concluded by analysing the role of Mary, in the light of the motto of the national holiday in Lebanon, “Together around Mary, Our Lady”. “In the Apostolic Exhortation 'Marialis Cultus', promulgated in 1974 by Pope Paul VI, Mary is presented as 'the Virgin who listens', 'the Virgin who prays', 'the Virgin in dialogue with God'. … But there is also the image of a model of dialogue of seeking when, addressing the Archangel Gabriel, she asks, 'How is it possible?'. Mary, a model for Muslims and Christians, is also a model of dialogue, teaching us to believe, not to close ourselves up in certainties, but rather to remain open and available to others”.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Taizé Prayer in Jerusalem

Prière de TaizéJERUSALEM – March 18, 2014. Lent: time for prayer, penance and charity. Time to remember our brothers and sisters in need. This is how the idea of having a Taizé prayer in the French hospital St. Louis, came to life through cooperation of the hospital, Franciscan friars, Salesian friars and members of St. James Vicariate for Hebrew speaking Catholics. 
The French hospital of St. Louis, is run by the sisters of St. Joseph and is 150 years old. The hospital is specializing in palliative care for patients with cancer, and also receives geriatric patients with special needs. The hospital is a real example of co-existence and peace between Palestinian and Israelis. A very big contribution to the hospital is made by the presence of volunteers, from all over the world, who give a lot of love and tender care for the patients of the hospital.
On Tuesday, the 18th of March gathered together in the beautiful church of the hospital patients, staff members, religious from different denominations, and many lay persons who came together to pray for the sick and needy.
In the beginning of the prayers, conducted by brother Alberto Pari, OFM, a prayer by Brother Roger was recited in several languages:
“God of compassion,
disconcerted by the incomprehensible suffering of the innocent,
we pray for those who are experiencing times of trial.
Inspire the hearts of those who seek
the peace that
is so indispensable for the whole human family.”
At the end of the prayer, Sr. Monika Dullman, the Chief Nurse of the hospital thanked brother Alberto, the Salesian friars and Benedetto, seminarian from St. James Vicariate and for all the participants who came to pray and support the patients.
After the prayer there was a time for socializing, and getting to know the stories of some of the patients, which are refugees from countries that are in a state of war.
Hopefully this kind of initiative will continue in the future so that the peace of Taizé may fill the hearts of all and bring comfort to the sick.

Migrants in Israel: Lent in the Indian Community


TEL AVIV-JAFFA, saturday March 22. A Lenten one day charismatic retreat was held at Saint Anthony’s Church and Terra Santa School Hall in Jaffa for the indian migrant community in Israël.

Father Tojy, Chaplain for the Indian migrant worker community in the Holy Land, reports:

A Lenten one day charismatic retreat was held at Saint Anthony’s Church and Terra Santa School Hall in Jaffa on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The retreat brought together Malayalam and Konkani speakers. It was led by Father Martin Kalamparambil and his team from the Divine Retreat Centre Kallyan in Mumbai, India.

There was also the opportunity for confession and Holy Mass was celebrated. About 750 people attended this retreat (400 Konkani speakers and 350 Malayalam speakers). Many people experienced divine grace and healing during the retreat. Lunch was served for all those present.

Source: http://www.catholic.co.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2243:lent-in-the-indian-community&catid=2:latest&Itemid=9&lang=en

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A New Cathedral in the Heart of the Muslim World

A Home for 2.5M Catholics
ROME, March 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Bishop Camillo Ballin, an Italian-born Comboni missionary, heads the Roman Catholic Vicariate of Northern Arabia. He is overseeing the first-ever building of a new cathedral in Bahrain, on land given to the Church by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah.

The cathedral, named Our Lady of Arabia, will serve an estimated 2.5 million Catholics—the great majority of them foreign guest workers—in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The new structure will be a focal point for the territory’s 10 parishes and more than 100 underground communities. Particularly in Saudi Arabia, the public practice of Christianity on the Arab Peninsula is severely restricted, mostly limited to the grounds of foreign embassies and private homes. Priests are generally not allowed to appear in public dressed in clerical garb; conversions of Muslims to Christianity are strictly forbidden, while Christians are banned from marrying Muslim women.

The building of the new cathedral signals a breakthrough in Church-state relations and is also testimony to what the prelate describes as “the constantly increasing number of Catholics in the region.” Currently only five formally designated churches serve the 880,000 square miles that make up the Vicariate. Bishop Ballin spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on March 17, 2014, the final day of his two-week trip to the US to raise awareness of the cathedral project.

Do you consider your Vicariate to be mission territory?
“Mission territory” implies evangelizing animists, converting them to Christianity. We are not among animists but among Muslims and Hindus. The Christians comprise some 10 percent of the population—and obviously the great majority is not Christian. But we cannot evangelize as it is understood in other countries of the world. We can only witness to the bounty and love of God through our daily life. The best place for this kind of witness is the school.

What is the composition of the Catholic community?
They come from many countries. The majority are from India and the Philippines. Others come from some of the Arab countries, from Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan, Korea, Europe, etc. Especially many workers from Asia completely alone. Many were not able to bring their families with them. As a result there are problems of too much solitude, of isolation, and of home sickness. On the other hand, solitude pushes them to find consolation and peace in the Lord, so we have a relatively high percentage of Mass attendance, which stands at between 30 percent and 35 percent. But we must ask ourselves why the others don’t come to the church! Part of the reason is that work schedules make things difficult.

How many priests and religious work with you?
We have 50 Priests and two permanent deacons. Except for six or seven pastors, all priests are religious, mostly Capuchins, because the pastoral care of the Gulf has been entrusted to them by the Holy See.

How visible and active is your church in the local community?
Our Church is very visible, even though the new churches don’t have a cross on the outside. Thousands and thousands of people coming to the church cannot be invisible. We don’t have social engagements—our presence is more based on the personal witness of a good Christian life.

What is your biggest challenge as a bishop? What are the Church’s biggest needs?
We have many nationalities; and there are faithful belonging to almost all of the various eastern and oriental Catholic rites. It is not easy to make of all these different communities a single Catholic Church. There is a risk of having too many churches near each other, without truly being that one Catholic Church, even as, of course, we respect all the rites. For example, churches in Kuwait typically celebrate the liturgy according to five different rites and in 13 languages. It is a logistical challenge to accommodate all the various communities within a single building.

The difficulties of being a Christian in the Middle East have been making a lot of headlines. What are the circumstances in your Vicariate?
No government in the Gulf has a policy of forced conversion from Christianity to Islam. There are, however, some zealous individuals. Of course, it is forbidden to convert from Islam to Christianity. But the situation in the Gulf is radically different from the challenges faced by Christians some countries of the Middle East. In the Gulf there are no local Christians, except very few in Kuwait and Bahrain; and all Christians have to leave when they reach age 60, with except those able to open their own business, under the sponsorship of a local person.

In other countries of the Middle East Christians are locals, like the other inhabitants. Christians in the Gulf are not citizens of the country where they are working; they are migrants. Even their children have to leave the Gulf when it’s time for them to go to college.

Do you think the Church is persecuted, harassed or hindered in its work in the Gulf region?
No, absolutely not. Only in some countries we are in extreme need of more space. If something dramatic would happen during our services, we could have hundreds of dead.

Many Christians think there should be reciprocity between Christianity and Islam The reasoning goes, as tolerance is shown for Muslims in Western countries, the Catholic Church should insist on equal rights for Christians in Muslim countries. Do you agree?
We have to ask authorities to grant us more space for our believers. However, we should not forget that our purpose is only to do good for all people, regardless any compensation from them.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met in the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, which was considered a tremendous breakthrough. What are the prospects for eventual diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and the Holy See?
I don’t have particular information about this. This concerns the nuncio and the Holy See. I know that Saudi Arabia would like to have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, but many points have to be clarified before this can happen.

Do Catholics, Christians in general, have an influence on the political, social and cultural life in the Gulf region?
Our faithful are migrants and most of them have very low-level jobs. However, they contribute very much to the good of the country through their daily work. If these migrants leave the Gulf, the Gulf countries would be the worse for it.

Does the Church provide education and social services for non-Christians?
Our schools are open to all. In fact, the majority of our students are non-Christians. Social services are provided by many doctors and the many thousands of nurses (males and female) who work in region’s hospitals. Of course, they do not work directly for the Church—but their presence in the society is very important.

Your website says that the Church is “trusted by governments.” What does this mean concretely?
Our Church is officially recognized by the various governments. We are not a private group or a hidden sect. We are a Church whose presence is recognized by the governments and I always tell the country’s leadership that they have nothing to fear from the Catholic Church, which always will respect their countries’ faith, culture and traditions.

Foreign workers are under a great deal of pressure in many Middle Eastern countries, especially Saudi Arabia, where many illegal immigrants are being expelled. Has the Church been able to ease their circumstances?
The Church cannot do anything for those who are here illegally. What happens normally is that people come here for a job, then, for any number of reasons, they lose the job and as a result of that even their residence permit. So, they become illegal. Our role is to help—even financially—people who suddenly lose their job and have a family to feed, children who have to finish their school year, etc.

How did the project of the new cathedral get started?
The great number of Catholics in Bahrain obliged me to ask the king for land. The church that we have in Manama is too small. I asked the king for a piece of land in the south of the country and he granted the request immediately. Since the bishop is in Bahrain, this new church will be the cathedral of the Vicariate of Northern Arabia and it will be dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia, patroness of the Gulf.

What moved the King of Bahrain to give you the land?
Of course, I don’t know his personal reasons, but I think he wanted to prove that Bahrain is a country open to all. In fact, there are Catholics and even Jews who are members of the Council of the king! In this region, where fanaticism is strong in some countries, the example of the king of Bahrain should be considered a model of openness.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia is an enormously costly project; are you not concerned that a backlash on the part of the Bahrain government—or a radical change in regime—could shutter the initiative? Or worse, could the building not become the target of anti-Christian violence?
The problems in Bahrain are not between Christians and Muslims but among Muslims themselves, between Shiites and Sunnis. I trust in the good will of the people of Bahrain.

I have been in Bahrain for two years now, and never have I perceived any negative attitudes toward Christians. In Bahrain, as well as in Kuwait and Qatar, I move about in my cassock and with my pectoral cross. There never have been problems; on the contrary, I am very much respected. The Catholic Church is known to all as a Church that respects all and helps all.

For more information on the new cathedral, please visit www.churchinneed.org/ourladyofarabia.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)

WCC general secretary expresses “grave concern” over Knesset law

Joining his voice to those of the churches in Palestine and Israel, the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed “grave concern” about a law recently passed by the Israeli Knesset or parliament.

The law passed by the Knesset on 24 February would define the status of Palestinian Arab Christians in the state of Israel.

Top officials of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land have said that this new law “introduces a distinction between Christian and Muslim Palestinians and states that Christian Palestinians are Christians and not Palestinians”.

In a statement issued on 18 March, Tveit called on “Israeli authorities to reverse this law to stop an injustice against the Christian citizens of Israel”.

He encouraged the WCC member churches to “raise this issue with representatives of Israel and with their own governments”, urging reversal of this law.

Tveit said that this law establishes a “legislative distinction between the indigenous Palestinian Arab Christians and Palestinian Arab Muslims, both of whom are citizens of the State of Israel”. This distinction, he stressed, is an “unacceptable severing of entire communities from their cultural identity”.

Tveit added that the “Knesset has transgressed all proper distinctions between state and religious authority by attempting to define the nature and character of Christian communities within Israel against their own will and self-understanding”.

Ambassador of Palestine to the Holy See

From the Ambassador of Palestine to the Holy See
19 March 2014
On the first anniversary of His Holiness Pope Francis

From the Holy Land of Palestine, I am pleased to deliver sentiments of love and admiration from the Palestinian people towards a loving and caring Father, a leader for peace and justice and a prince of the poor.

In the past week, we have had the pleasure to engage with an advance team from the Holy See, as we prepare to welcome His Holiness the Pope, along with His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew into our homeland.  It is with great honor that H.E President Mahmoud Abbas, on behalf of Palestine, has extended all efforts to ensure that Your holy visit will be a historic one. We hope that through this pilgrimage, we can begin to formalize the strong bonds between the Holy See and our noble country and that one day soon, Palestine may serve as the entry point of the Holy See into the Middle East and the rest of the Arab World.

Jerusalem and Bethlehem are ready and all Palestinians are eager to be there to witness this visit. They will join from all over our nation, including Gaza, Jenin, Zababdeh, Nablus, Jericho and the towns and villages of the Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Ramallah districts. We are also making arrangements to allow thousands of Palestinian Christians from the Galilee to attend Mass in Bethlehem, reaffirming their commitment to their church as well as to their Palestinian identity.

One year has passed with the grace of His Holiness prayers and good endeavors, One year has passed with the light of hope shining more than before from the Vatican in Rome, One year has passed and I am proud to be serving in this City representing my people’s aspirations among teachers of peace and love.

God bless all Your steps throughout the years. We wish Your Holiness all good health and we look to Your example as we strive to retain hope and to overcome occupation, separation, exile and injustice in this land.

 Issa Kassissieh

Nazareth interfaith mission confirmed


NAZARETH – Nazareth increasingly finds its biblical and historical vocation as the city of unity. This vocation comes from the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the unity and brotherhood par excellence. More and more, groups of pilgrims, mostly mixed, are asking to have interreligious meetings in Nazareth.

On March 10, 2014, a group from Toronto, called ‘The Path of Abraham’, consisting of thirty-two Jewish, Christian and Muslim Canadians, had an interreligious meeting in Nazareth around the topic “How to build a successful interreligious coexistence?” The dialogue was held at the White Mosque in Nazareth, the oldest in Nazareth and probably in all Galilee, the Administrator of the Mosque, Sheikh Atef Fahoum, and three officials from the Canadian group: Rabbi Bayron F. Kohl, Fr. Damien MacPherson, and Imam Abdul Hai Patel.

After introductions by the bishop and the sheikh, a beautiful and frank dialogue developed among all participants, where the question that most often arose was: “Does Nazareth teach something about how to live together in ethnic, cultural and religious diversity?” The bishop gave a biblical and theological response: “Yes, in Nazareth, God revealed Himself as the Father of all and therefore we are all brothers.  The Word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, did not refuse nor despise the ‘diversity’ of man, but he took on humanity and, becoming man, elevated humanity and created a profound unity.”

The Sheikh gave an historical and social response and, in some aspects, joked: “Our Mosque is called ‘white’ because of the mission of social harmony, good relations and the ‘all pure Virgin Mary of Nazareth’ of whom the Qur’an speaks extensively. It is true that sometimes there is unrest in our relationships, but they have never been the expression of the Muslim community, but rather the result of small opportunistic politicized groups. The Mosque and Church of the Annunciation have traditionally been the center of the city of Nazareth and the symbol of our secular and peaceful coexistence, to such an extent that the inhabitants of Nazareth call me “the Imam of the Annunciation” and my brother, “the Bishop of the White Mosque”!

We remember that this vocation of unity was manifested eminently on May 14, 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI presided over the famous Nazareth interreligious meeting of all religious leaders of Israel. It was a local initiative, but the mission of unity was felt and experienced even at the international level and, as we noted, groups of pilgrims fit more into their programs an interreligious meeting in Nazareth.

One also remembers, for example, the chapel of the International Mary of Nazareth Center, the first church to be blessed in Galilee after the visit of Pope Benedict is called the “chapel of unity”.

Text our correspondent Nazareth. Photos by A. K.


Christian Palestinians in Israel: a threatened identity?

Procession Haifa 

HOLY LAND – March 2014. The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries has approved a document published by the Justice and Peace Commission about the Knesset law project which is about to introduce a distinction between Christian and Muslim Palestinians, stating that Christian Palestinians are Christians and not Palestinians. One of the consequence of this campaign will be to draft Christian Palestinians into the Israeli military.

Israeli policy makers are increasingly insisting that Christian Palestinians are not Arabs and not part of the Palestinian people. This has been expressed in the campaign to draft Christian Palestinians into the Israeli military and most recently in a law proposed by Member of Knesset Yariv Levin, which introduces a distinction between Christian and Muslim Palestinians and states that Christian Palestinians are Christians and not Palestinians.

We, the heads of the Catholic Church in Israel, would like to clarify that it is not the right or the duty of the Israeli civil authorities to tell us who we are. In fact, most of our faithful in Israel are Palestinian Arabs. They are obviously Christians too. They are also citizens of the State of Israel. We do not see any contradiction in this definition of identity: Christian Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of the State of Israel.
We address our words to all Christian Palestinians, whether in Israel or in Palestine and wherever they are in the world. They are, all, wherever they are, Palestinians and Christians and citizens.

Indeed, there are some Christians in Israel, a small, marginal minority, who are supporting this campaign to redefine our identity. Whether they do so out of self-interest, fear, dreams of having full equality, we cannot say. However we must point out that they cannot pretend to be the spokespeople of the Christian Palestinians in Israel.

The people of this land, Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druzes, have lived here for centuries and have known successive governments. Christians and Muslims and Druzes together (and some Jews too who always lived  in the land) insist that their shared common identity, which has developed over centuries, is Palestinian.
This campaign clearly has as its aim to divide Christians from their Muslim compatriots.  However, it is equally dangerous because it will divide Christians among themselves even further.

If the Knesset indeed seeks the good of the citizens of Israel, it should invest every effort to legislate laws that remove discrimination, whether it be against Jews or Arabs, Christians, Muslims or Druze. In creating a society that unites all citizens in equality and strives for justice and peace, there will remain no reason to fear for anybody and Israelis and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Druze, can live together in mutual respect and dignity, working together to build a better future.

Justice and Peace Commission, and the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land

Birzeit Parish welcomes Patriarch


BIRZEIT – From Saturday, March 15, 2014 to Sunday, March 16, 2014 , His Beatitude  Fouad Twal made ​​a pastoral visit to the Palestinian town of Birzeit, where he met with parishioners and learned about their various activities.

On Saturday, March 15, Patriarch Twal made ​​his formal entry into the parish of Birzeit for a pastoral visit. He was welcomed by the scouts and religious leaders of the city, the Rosary Sisters, members of Municipal Council,  St. Vincent de Paul Society, parishioners, and the faculty and students Latin Patriarchate School. The Patriarch began his day at the parish church for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament,  met with members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the parish hall. He then visited the various classrooms, from kindergarten to high school, before moving  to the Father Buzo Center, a home for the elderly, where he had lunch.

Early in the afternoon, His Beatitude offered his condolences to the family of Mu’taz Washaha, the 25 year old man killed  almost two weeks ago by the Israeli army who destroyed his home using shells and heavy machine guns.

Later the Patriarch met with various active parish groups: the Young Christian Students and Young Christian Workers, the children’s choir group, the Neocatechumenal Way, the adult parish choir and the Housing Committee. This long but eventful day finally ended with dinner at the community of the Rosary Sisters, and a meeting with the parish priest, Father Louis Hazboun, and seminarians of the parish, with whom the Patriarch prayed the Church’s Liturgy of Hours.

On Sunday morning, Patriarch Twal celebrated Mass during which a few parish children received First Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation.  After Mass, many parishioners greeted him, spoke with him and took some memorable photos.  At noon, the Patriarch met with the Parish Women’s Committee, and had lunch with the members of the Legion of Mary.

The pastoral visit to Birzeit concluded with a visit to Nadeema and Samar Salameh and Fautine Abdallah, to whom he gave Holy Communion. He also visited the famous Fr. Manuel Mousallem, a son of Birzeit, who in recent years retired after a long life given in the service of the Lord, especially to his little suffering flock  in Gaza.

Firas Abedrabbo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Patriarch Rai to Lebanese Government: Stop War of Attrition

Calls for De-Escalation of Tensions Within Country
ROME, March 19, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Boutros Bechara Rai has called on political leaders in Lebanon to end to “the war of attrition”, denouncing the tensions that have arisen in the country by opposing political forces.

According to Fides, Patriarch Rai made his states during a Mass in Bkerké to mark the beginning of the appointment of Caritas Lebanon’s new president, Father Paul Karam on Sunday, March 16th.

Tensions have arisen in Lebanon after the government released a statement that gave citizens the right to resist Israeli attacks.

The Lebanese government “affirms the right of Lebanese citizens to resist Israeli occupation and repel aggressions and recover occupied territory,” the statement read. The language of the statement came after political parties within the country were in dispute for weeks.

The Maronite Patriarch called for a de-escalation of tensions in the country. Patriarch Rai reiterated the need to eliminate all the "concerns expressed in relation to the State as a unitary authority in reference to its territory, its people and its institutions as is enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution in force in Lebanon."

Patriarch Rai wished the new President of Caritas Lebanon “to operate profitably in addressing the exorbitant problems that the body will be found to deal with.” (J.A.E.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pope Francis: Speak out to end Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Children

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center - In anticipation of an upcoming papal visit to the Holy Land, an Open Letter signed by more than 200 bishops, clerics, members of religious orders, and theologians from several faith traditions, was delivered to Pope Francis on March 5, 2014. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has now added his support of this letter.

Initiated by Friends of Sabeel- North America, the letter asks the Pope to publicly:
  • speak out against the Israeli military’s program of kidnapping, detention, and systematic abuse of Palestinian children;  
  • call on Israel to respect international law, end its occupation of Palestine, and terminate its brutal siege on and blockade of Gaza; 
  • ask other nations to address policies toward Israel that have allowed the abuses of occupation and colonization of Palestine to fester for so many decades and to demand justice, accountability and the implementation of international law.  
Click here for more information. 

Please join Nobel Laureates Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker in adding your support for this letter by signing below. If you would like to sign on behalf of an organization, please click here.

Friends of Sabeel North America
PO Box 9186 Portland, OR 97207

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
PO Box 49084, Jerusalem, 91491, Palestine

March 5, 2014

Your Holiness Pope Francis:

We join with Christians and people of other faiths around the world working for peace and justice in the HolyLand. Your Holiness is much aware of the root causes of conflict and injustice in the Holy Land: Israel’s occupationand denial of human rights to the Palestinian people.

As you prepare for your upcoming trip to the Holy Land, we would like to especially bring the suffering of Palestinian children to your Holiness’ attention. UNICEF recently published a report (Children in Israeli Military Detention) focusing on the treatment of hundreds of Palestinian children prosecuted in Israeli military courts each year. Based on over 400 sworn testimonies, UNICEF concluded that theill-treatment of children who come in contact with the system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process. The treatment documented by UNICEF includes terrifying nighttime arrests, blindfolding and shackling, and the routine physical and mental abuse of children as young as 12 years old. UNICEF concluded that: in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.

The concerns raised by UNICEF are not new and have been documented over many years by Israeli, Palestinian and international lawyers, as well as by other United Nations agencies and NGOs, including the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, the U.N. Committee against Torture, Military Court Watch, BTselem, the Public Committee Against Torture, Defence for Children International Palestine and Save the Children.

We ask your Holiness to publicly call upon the government of Israel to end its mistreatment of Palestinian children; to respect the rights of refugees to return under international law, recognized by the Vatican; to end the prolonged military occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; and to end the punitive and illegal siege and blockade of Gaza. Of the 1.8 million people living in Gaza, 51% are under 18 years old and 43% are under 15 years old.

We also ask your Holiness to publicly call upon all nations to address policies toward Israel that have allowed the abuses of occupation and colonization to fester for so many decades, and to call upon those nations to demand justice, accountability and the implementation of international law.

As we pray, we examine our own lives for how individually and collectively we can best contribute to ending the suffering of children in Palestine and of all children of the world.

We reflect on the beautiful passage in Isaiah 61 that Jesus used to proclaim his ministry: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound. We join our prayers with those of the Church and people of faith everywhere in our ongoing work for the peace that will only come with justice in the Holy Land.


The Reverend Dr. Naim Ateek, Anglican Church, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center,  Jerusalem, Palestine

His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin (Roman Catholic) Patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine (Emeritus), Jerusalem

Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sevastia, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Archimandrite John Azar, St. John Chrysostom Melkite Church, Atlanta, Georgia

The Right Reverend Allen I. Bartlett Jr., Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania (retired). Pennsylvania

The Right Reverend Edmond Lee Browning, 24th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church United States (retired), Oregon

The Right Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina

The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont

The Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, Assisting Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago

The Right Reverend Leo Frade, Diocesan Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida

The Right Reverend J. Gary Gloster, Bishop Suffragan (retired), Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

The Most Reverend Thomas Gumbleton, Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit (retired). Michigan

The Right Reverend Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Durham, North Carolina

The Right Reverend Robert W. Ihloff, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland (retired), Baltimore, Maryland

The Right Reverend Bob Jones, Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming; Dean, St. George's College Jerusalem, (retired), Colorado

The Very Reverend S. Ross Jones, Episcopal, Ashville, North Carolina

The Right Reverend Samir Hanna Kafity, Bishop-in-Residence, Anglican Bishop to Jerusalem 1984-1998, Poway, California

Monsignor Labib Kobti, Pastor, St. Thomas More Church, San Francisco, California

The Right Reverend Ladehoff, Episcopal Bishop (retired), Oregon

The Right Reverend Edward L. Lee, Jr. Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan (retired), Assisting Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Monsignor Peter O'Reilly, Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Claremont, California

The Very Reverend Churchill G. Pinder, Dean, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral and School, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The Right Reverend Gregory H. Rickel, Episcopal Bishop of Olympia, Seattle, Washington

The Right Reverend Harry W Shipps, Bishop of Georgia (retired), The Episcopal Church, Savannah, Georgia

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, United Methodist Church (retired), California

The Right Reverend C. Cabell Tennis, Episcopal Bishop of Delaware (retired), Seattle, Washington

The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe, Episcopal Bishop of Kansas

The Reverend Dr. Fahed Abuakel, Moderator of the 214th General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA), Georgia

The Reverend Dr. Said Ailabouni, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, La Grange, Illinois

Moji Agha, sufi monk, Founder, Universal Coalition for Interfaith and Intercultural Knowledge, Tucson, Arizona

The Reverend Catherine L. Alder, United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network, Vancouver, Washington

Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Reverend Anita Amstutz, Albuquerque Mennonite Church, New Mexico

The Reverend Dr. Tisa M. Anders, Disciples of Christ, Writing the World, LLC, Lakewood, Colorado

The Reverend Dr. John Anderson, Pastor, St. John's Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, California

M. A. Azeez, Imam, SALAM Center, Sacramento, California

The Reverend Raymond J. Bakke, American Baptist, Chancellor of Union University of California

The Reverend Teri Baird, Pastor, United Methodist, Dillon, Montana

Sister Linda Barringer, M.M.B, Guardian Angels Parish, Kansas City, Missouri

Dr. Hatem Bazien, Chair of the Northern California Islamic Council. California

Sister Arnadene Welton Bean, SNJM, Ketchikan, Alaska

The Reverend Jason E. Bense, Pastor, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Sacramento, California

The Reverend James Bethell, Episcopal (retired), Oregon

The Reverend Bart Beavin, United Methodist Campus Minister (retired), Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Reverend Davidson Bidwell-Waite, Parish Deacon, Transfiguration Episcopal Church, San Mateo, California

The Reverend Bill Bliss, Pastor, The Neighborhood United Church of Christ, Bath, Maine

The Reverend Jola Bortner, Pastor Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Sacramento, California

The Reverend Brian E. Brandt, Ph.D., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Oregon Synod, Oregon

The Reverend James Brentlinger, United Methodist Church, missionary to China (retired), Oregon

Dr. Barry Bryant, Professor, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois

Dr. Carole Burnett, Antiochian Orthodox, Professor, Baltimore, Maryland

The Reverend Kenneth L. Burres, Ph.D., Professor of Religion Emeritus, Central Methodist University, Washington

The Reverend Peter JB Carman, Minister, Binkley Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Reverend Laurie Larson Caesar, Mission of the Atonement, Beaverton, Oregon

The Reverend James Carstensen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (retired), Raymond, Missouri

The Reverend John Chamberlin, United Methodist Church (retired), San Francisco, California

The Reverend Susan Champion, Vicar Christ the Lord Episcopal Church, Pinole, California

The Reverend Ann S Coburn, Episcopal (retired), Berkeley, California

The Reverend Ernest Cockrell, Episcopal (retired), California

Sister Gloria Coleman, Catholic Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus (retired educator), Rosemont, Pennsylvania

The Reverend Branwen L. Cook, United Church of Christ, Massachusetts Conference, UCC Palestine Israel Network

The Reverend Darrell Darling, United Methodist Church, California

The Reverend Dr. Walt Davis, Israel/Palestine Network Presbyterian Church (USA) (retired), San Anselmo, California

The Reverend John Dear, SJ, New Mexico

The Reverend Dr. John R. Deckenback, United Church of Christ, Central Atlantic Conference, Baltimore, Maryland

The Reverend Sharon Delgado, United Methodist Church, Executive Director Earth Justice Ministries, Nevada City, California

The Reverend Stephen Denny, Deacon, St. John the Evangelist, Episcopal, Milwaukie, Oregon

The Reverend Joan Deming, United Methodist Church, Madison, Wisconsin

The Reverend Jeffrey DeYoe, Presbyterian Church (USA), Covenant Presbyterian Church, Ft. Myers, Florida

Sister Karen M. Donahue, RSM, Justice Coordinator, Sisters of Mercy West, Midwest Community, Detroit, Michigan

The Reverend Howard Dotson, Presbyterian Church (USA) Minnesota

The Reverend Elizabeth Morris Downie, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Grand Blanc, Michigan

The Reverend Joseph Dubay, Episcopal (retired), Portland, Oregon

The Reverend Diane Dulin, United Church of Christ (retired), Salem, Oregon

The Reverend Ron Dunn, United Methodist Church, Alamo, California

The Reverend David Ebert, Boston, Massachusetts

The Reverend L. Kathleen Eschen-Pipes, Parish Associate, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Santa Cruz, California

The Reverend Don Fado, United Methodist Church (retired), Sacramento, California

The Reverend Dr. Forster W. Freeman, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ, Lake Oswego, Oregon

The Reverend Dr. Cotton Fite, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Priest Associate, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Evanston, Illinois

The Reverend Joanne Fitzgerald, Pastor, Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Chicago, Illinois

The Reverend Stan Fowler, Episcopal, Edmonds, Washington

The Reverend Dr. Ann H. Franklin, Episcopal, Brevard, North Carolina

The Reverend John M. Gallagher, Episcopal (retired), Larkspur, California

The Reverend Larry George, United Methodist Church (retired), Roseville, California

The Reverend David W. Good, First Congregational Church (retired), Tree of Life Educational Fund, Old Lyme, Connecticut

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, The Fellowship of Reconciliation, Freeman Fellow, California

The Reverend Vicki Gray, Deacon, Christ the Lord Episcopal Church, Pinole, California

The Reverend Dr. Larry L. Greenfield, Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The Reverend Canon Brian J. Grieves, Episcopal (retired), Hawaii

The Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, DC

The Reverend Bob Hannum, former United Methodist Church Liaison in Jerusalem, Pennsylvania

The Reverend Heather Leslie Hammer, Pastor, Lynnewood United Methodist Church, Pleasanton, California

The Reverend Constance Hammond, Episcopal (retired) Portland, Oregon

The Reverend Lawrence Hansen, Cana House, Portland, Oregon

The Reverend Lois Harder, co-Pastor, The Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, Kansas

The Reverend Tom Harder, co-Pastor, The Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, Kansas

The Reverend Dr. Scott L. Harris, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Essex, Connecticut

The Reverend Roy Hayes, Episcopal (retired), San Diego, California

The Reverend Nancy S. Hildebrand, Associate Rector, St. David's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.

The Reverend Cindy Howard, Episcopalian, Andalusia, Alabama

The Reverend Dr. Carol L. Huntington, MSW, M.Div., Deacon, Episcopal Diocese of Maine

The Reverend Pat Ireland, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

The Reverend Jill E. James, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Oregon Synod, Oregon

The Reverend Lucretia Jevne, Episcopal, Vacaville, California

The Reverend David Johnson, Presbyterian Church (USA), (retired), Louisville, Kentucky

The Reverend Kathryn Johnson, United Methodist Church, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Washington, DC

The Reverend Kent Johnson, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, La Crescent, Minnesota

The Reverend Alan Jones, St Mark’s United Methodist Church, Sacramento, California

The Reverend Roger Jones, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, California

Sister Elaine M. Kelley, SFCC (Sisters for Christian Community), Warren, Oregon

The Reverend Dr. Charles A. Kennedy, Professor emeritus, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Virginia

The Reverend Dr. James Kenney, Presbyterian Church (USA) (retired), Heartland Presbytery, Kansas City, Missouri

The Reverend John E. Kerr, Interim Lead Pastor, Bethesda Lutheran Church, Ames, Iowa

The Reverend Tim Keyl, Pastor, Bethesda Lutheran Church, New Haven, Connecticut

The Reverend Khader Khalilia, Pastor, Redeemer St John’s Lutheran, Brooklyn, New York

Dr. Ursula King, PhD, FRSA, Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies and Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, England

The Reverend John R. Kleinheksel Sr., Founder of Friends of Palestinians and Israelis (FPI), Michigan

The Reverend Dale Kuruhara, United Methodist Church (retired), Lincoln, California

The Reverend Linda Kusse-Wolfe, United Methodist Church, Kansas

The Reverend Dr. Ruth Bradbury LaMonte, Priest Associate, All Saints Episcopal Church, Mobile, Alabama

The Reverend Susan Langle, Trinity Episcopal Church, Claremont, New Hampshire

Dr. Joy Lapp, Assistant Professor of Religion, Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa

The Reverend Donald P. Lee, First United Methodist Church, Sacramento, California

The Reverend Bryan A Leone, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (retired), New England Synod, Connecticut

The Reverend Jim Lewis, Episcopal, Charleston, West Virginia

The Reverend John-Otto Liljenstolpe, n/OLF, Co-Director, the Rauschenbusch Center, Seattle, Washington

The Reverend Linda Loessberg-Zahl. Centennial United Methodist Church, Sacramento, California

The Reverend Canon J. Fletcher Lowe, Jr., Episcopal, Richmond, Virginia

The Reverend Raymond Low, Rector Emeritus St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Scituate, Massachusetts

The Reverend Sandra R Mackie, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The Reverend Ralph Macy, Episcopal (retired), Burlington, North Carolina

The Reverend Fr. George Makhlouf. St. Elias Orthodox, Atlanta, Georgia

The Reverend Fr. Richard Mangini, Concord, California

The Reverend Don Marxhausen, Zion Lutheran Church, Idaho Springs, Colorado

The Reverend Daniel F. Martensen, Ph.D., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ecumenical Research Fellow, Washington Theological Consortium, Washington, D.C.

Sister Judith G. Martin, SSJ, PhD, Professor Emerita from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio

The Reverend Linda McConnell, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Salinas, California

The Reverend Tana McDonald, Grass Valley United Methodist Church, Grass Valley, California

The Reverend Deacon Marla McGarry-Lawrence, Episcopal, Portland, Oregon

The Reverend Russell Melby, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Iowa Field Dir., Church World Service, Iowa

The Reverend Emily McNeill, First United Methodist Church of Tacoma, Tacoma, Washington

The Reverend David Mesenbring, Episcopal, Seattle, Washington

The Reverend Darrel Meyers Presbyterian Church (USA) (retired), Burbank California

The Reverend Ronald H. Miller, Ph. D., Episcopal Diocese of Maryland (retired), Maryland

The Reverend Stephen Michie, Pastor/Head of Staff, Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church, Pelham, New York

The Reverend Dr. Katherine N. Mitchell, Episcopal, North Carolina

Rabbi David Mivasair, Rabbi Emeritus, Ahavat Olam Synagogue, Vancouver, Canada

The Reverend Dr. James Moiso Presbyterian Church (USA), Oregon

The Reverend Neil J. Moore, Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

The Reverend Mary Elizabeth Morris, Lutheran (retired), New England Synod, Scarborough, Maine

The Reverend Heather Mueller, St Andrews Episcopal Church, Taft, California

The Reverend Dr. G. Palmer Pardington III, Episcopal, Oregon

The Reverend Dr. Alice de V. Perry, Shalom United Church of Christ, New Haven, Connecticut

The Reverend Walter E. Phelps, Episcopal Diocese of California (retired), Vacaville, California

The Reverend Sara Webb Phillips, North Springs United Methodist Church, Sandy Springs, Georgia

The Reverend Doug Pierce, The Crossing Ministries, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin

The Reverend Fr. Christie Joachim Pillai,OMI, ThD, (retired) Toronto, Canada

The Reverend Michael Poage, Pastor, United Church of Christ, Wichita, Kansas

The Reverend Linda C. Prendergast, Pastor, Pinole United Methodist Church, Pinole, California

The Reverend Fr W. Clarke Prescott, Vicar, St. Andrew's, Lake Elsinore and St. Stephen's, Menifee, California

The Reverend Susan E. Joseph Rack, Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Martinsville, New Jersey

Sister Therese Randolph, RSM, Daly City, California

The Reverend George Roberts, St James Episcopal Parish, Farmington, Connecticut

The Reverend Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Reverend Carol Rose, Outgoing Director/Acting Programme Director, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Chicago, Illinois

Rosemary Radford Ruether, Theologian, Claremont School of Theology and Graduate University, California

The Reverend Dana Runestad, Pastor, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Livonia, Michigan

The Reverend Herb Schmidt, Lutheran Campus Pastor Emeritus from Stanford and UCSC, California

The Reverend Karla Schmidt, The Crossing Ministries, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Wisconsin

The Reverend Fr. George Shalhoub, The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary, Livonia, Michigan

The Reverend Dr. Ronald Shive, First Presbyterian Church, Burlington, North Carolina

Ali Siddiqui, Imam, Interfaith Coordinator for Khatib Islamic Center of North Marin and Executive Director Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies & Understanding, Santa Rosa, California

The Reverend Dan Simmons, United Church of Christ, Oregon

Sister Marcia Sims SSS, Oregon

Sister Florence Steichen, CSJ, Registrar, Bethlehem University, 1987-1992

The Reverend William R Straka, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chaplain, Iowa

The Reverend Valerie Anne Strickert, Bethesda Lutheran Church, Ames, Iowa

The Reverend Joe Summers, Pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Reverend Robert Tobin, Episcopal priest (retired), Maine

The Reverend Canon Richard Toll, D. Min, D.D., Episcopal (retired), Portland, Oregon

The Reverend Dr. Fran Toy, Episcopal (retired), California

The Reverend Bonnie Van Overbeke, United Church of Christ, Madison, Wisconsin The Reverend Gilbert H. Vieira, United Methodist Church (retired), Sonoma, California The Reverend Arnold J Voigt, Pastor, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Colorado

The Reverend John Wagner, United Methodist Church Kairos Response, Middletown, Ohio

The Reverend Will Wauters TSSF, Chair, Episcopal Peace Fellowship National Executive Council, Diocese of West
Texas, San Antonio, Texas

Dr. Dorothy Jean Weaver, Eastern Mennonite Theological Seminary, Professor of New Testament, Harrisonburg, Virginia

The Reverend Dr. Paul A. Wee, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, DC

The Reverend Dr. DarEll T. Weist, United Methodist Church (retired), Claremont, California

The Reverend Lee N. Welkley, Advent Christian, Jacksonville, Florida

The Reverend William Whiting, Episcopal Interim Ministry, Michigan

The Reverend Susan P. Wilder, Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Virginia

The Reverend E. Philip Wilson, United Methodist Church (retired), Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace, Director of Organizing, Oakland, California

The Reverend E. Philip Wilson. United Methodist Church (retired), Pennsylvania

The Reverend Robert Woody, Rector of Episcopal Church of Reconciliation, San Antonio, Texas

The Reverend Dr. Tony Wolfe, Presbyterian Church (USA), San Diego, California

Sister Bernadette Wombacher, O.P., California

The Reverend Darrell W. Yearney, HR, Parish Associate Trinity Presbyterian Church, Scotts Valley, California

Dr. K.K. Yeo, Professor: Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois

The Reverend Michael Yoshii, Pastor, Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Alameda, California

Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network Episcopal Peace Fellowship of Western North Carolina Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the PC (USA)

Kairos Palestine, Rifat Kassis, Director, Coordinator Kairos, Palestine

Peace & Justice Task Force Presbytery of San Jose, PCUSA, CA, James R Hagan, Chair

Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, Larry A. Cooper - President

United Methodist Kairos Response, Rev. John Wagner, Convener

Dr. Mark Braverman, National Program Director, Kairos USA, Portland, Oregon

Prof. Nahida H. Gordon, former moderator of the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus, Ohio James R Hagan, Chair, Peace & Justice Task Force Presbytery of San Jose, PCUSA, California Angelica S. Harter, Chair, United Church of Christ. Palestine Israel Network, MA

Dr. Bernard Sabella, Executive Secretary of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East Council of
Churches, Jerusalem

David Wildman, Executive Secretary, Human Rights & Racial Justice, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist
Church, New York

Note: Where individuals names are listed first, the denomination, church, or organizations are for identification only. Where organizational names are listed first, the organization is a signatory.