Thursday, December 14, 2000
The violence and death characteristic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are brought to our attention day after day.
We are not and cannot be indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians or Israelis, of Muslims, Christians, or Jews.
We express our grief for all victims of the violence, for all who have died and their mourning families and communities, for all who have lost their homes and their livelihood.
We have received the statement of the United States Ecumenical Delegation, which visited the Holy Land December 7-12. In its meetings and conversations with religious communities and political authorities the delegation gained many insights concerning the violence, fear, privation, and suffering which deeply traumatize people and communities in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and Gaza. The delegation's call for prayer for a just peace has our full support. We strongly urge U.S. policy-makers to receive the statement of the delegation and to engage in a full and thoughtful consideration of the statement's insights, concerns, and proposals.
As Orthodox bishops in the United States we wish to emphasize our sense of urgent concern about the future of the Christian churches and communities in the land all Christians call holy. While we fully recognize the needs and concerns of the Muslim and Jewish religious communities in Jerusalem, in Palestine, and in Israel, we also express our solidarity with the living Christian communities in the region.
The future of Jerusalem, of Palestine, and of Israel must include not only access to Christian holy places and sites, but also space for the historic, indigenous living Christian communities. In this connection we express our solidarity with the recent appeal of the patriarchs and heads of churches and Christian communities in Jerusalem, which calls for the constructive involvement of the Christian communities in the international diplomatic effort to define the future status of Jerusalem.
The achievement of justice and peace requires the contributions of all three faiths - Jewish, Muslim, and Christian - through their living communities in the region.
Finally, recognizing the humanitarian crisis, which has been caused by the violence, by the ongoing confiscation of homes and land and the establishment of new Israeli settlements, by prohibitions against travel, and by massive unemployment, we appeal to all Orthodox Christians in the United States to open their hearts to our suffering brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. We ask that funds for this purpose collected in dioceses and parishes of the member jurisdictions of SCOBA be transmitted to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), our humanitarian agency. We fully endorse IOCC in its initiative to provide humanitarian assistance on our behalf directly to the vulnerable and suffering people and communities.