Church Leaders call for Immediate Ceasefire in Middle East

 — Aug. 12, 200612 aoüt 2006

Church leaders and inter-church organizations around the world have been speaking out about the current crisis in the Middle East and, despite differences in perspective, are urging an immediate ceasefire.

The World Council of Churches website news for 8 August: A joint appeal signed today by the leaders of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) calls “upon Israel and Hezbullah to end the fighting in Lebanon” and “upon the United States, the European Union, and the Arab States to exercise their influence toward this end.” It also calls “upon the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas to end the conflict in Gaza.” With the title “A call to end the violence,” the joint appeal is signed by WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, LWF president Bishop Mark Hanson and WARC president Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick. Full text at

In Canada, KAIROS, the umbrella organization for church peace and justice groups, issued a plea for a diplomatic solution in the Middle East on 25 July. It begins: “Over the recent weeks, we have seen the escalation of military conflict between Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. We are deeply troubled by these events, and pray for those who are suffering as a result. We join our voices with the many around the world calling urgently for ceasefire and a diplomatic solution before more lives are lost and more communities devastated. … The current escalation began in Gaza and continues there. On June 30, 2006, we shared the call of Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR). DSPR partners the world over were urged to press their governments to push for a diplomatic solution to resolve the episode of violence that threatened the life of a kidnapped Israeli soldier, countless civilians and Palestinian infrastructure.” Full text at

In the United States, the National Council of Churches‘ website states that “the NCC has been calling for an immediate ceasefire and a brokered peace since hostilities began in the Middle East. The NCC’s Interfaith Relations Ministry has also created a Web page to bring ancient faiths together to pray for peace.” The NCC has compiled the responses of Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic church leaders from around the world. You can read them at

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken repeatedly on this subject, as reported on the Catholic World News website. In an article dated July 17, the Pope “decried both Hezbollah terrorism and Israeli military reactions during his Angelus audience on Sunday, July 16. Reacting to the escalating violence in the Middle East, the Holy Father said that ‘neither terrorist acts nor reprisals — especially when they have such tragic consequences for the civilian population — can be justified.’ The Pope’s words were in full accord with a statement released on Friday, July 14, by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State. That earlier statement had condemned the terror attacks on Israel, but noted that a country’s right to self-defense is limited by the principles of international law.” Full text at

The Pope “voiced his growing dismay at the continued warfare in Lebanon during his weekly public audience on August 9. At the conclusion of his prepared remarks on the apostolic tradition, the Holy Father told the 6,000 people attending his Wednesday audience that ‘my thoughts, full of sorrow, are turning again to the beloved region of the Middle East.’ He insisted that is ‘still possible to change the course of events’ in the Middle East. The Pope again gave his support to efforts to obtain an immediate ceasefire, and talks aimed at achieving ‘a just and lasting solution.’ Citing the worlds of Pope Paul VI, in his 1965 speech to the UN, the he said: ‘If you want to be brothers, let your weapons fall from your hands.’ Pope Benedict reiterated his call for all of the faithful to join in prayers for a quick resolution of the conflict, saying: ‘I renew my call to everyone, to intensify their prayers for the gift of peace.’ Since the outbreak of the war in Lebanon 29 days ago, the Pontiff has made a point of calling for an end to the fighting — and begging prayers for peace — every time he has spoken in public.”

The Anglican Communion News Service website’s 19 July entry notes that Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, condemned the escalating violence. Writing to church leaders in Lebanon he said: “I have been alarmed at the spiral of violence, the vicious circle of attack and retaliation, that has developed over the last few days. My prayers and sympathy are with the principal victims, the innocent civilians on both sides of the border, who now live in terror and are powerless to prevent the collective suffering at the hands of Hizballah and the Israeli military. “The distress felt at the destruction not only of life but also the infrastructure so painstakingly rebuilt after years of conflict will, I know, be acute and reinforce the sense of helplessness at being caught up in a wider regional struggle. My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal.” Full text at

Geoff Tunnicliffe, the international director of the World Evangelical Alliance(WEA), which represents about 420 million evangelical Christians around the world, said: “The conflict in the Middle East has weighed heavily on all our hearts the past two weeks. While the WEA condemns the violent confrontation and urges all sides to cease retaliatory actions, there is a deeper concern about the welfare of the people living in the region as we waited for information specifically on the condition of our brothers and sisters caught in the conflict.” Full text at

The following statements on the conflict in Israel, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank may also be of interest:

Posted: Aug. 12, 2006 • Permanent link:
Categories: Documents, Resources, WCC NewsIn this article: church leaders, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestine, peace, statements
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Catégorie : Documents, Resources, WCC NewsDans cet article : church leaders, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestine, peace, statements

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