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WASHINGTON—Moved by the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the U.S. bishops stand with Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops of the region as witnesses against violence and appeal for peace “for all peoples and nations in the Middle East,” according to a statement issued by the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Gathered in Washington for the Administrative Committee meeting March 14, the bishops said the suffering of people in the Middle East was close to their hearts, minds and prayers and that all people should be concerned.
“While we have special bond with the suffering Christians throughout the Middle East, our care extends to all peoples of every faith and every nationality,” said the bishops. “We urge a change of heart and mind on the part of all those who sow division and hatred. We plead with leaders of nations to show respect for the rights and dignity of all the citizens of their respective countries. We insist that peace, which is ultimately a gift of God, must be made the goal of every nation not only internally but in consort with all the nations and peoples of the region.”
The bishops said Catholics, other Christians and all people of good will “must reach across the divisions that have separated them and become peacemakers” and refuse to caught up in hatred, violence and death.
Full text of the statement follows in English and Spanish:
Concern for Peace in the Middle East:
During the meeting of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Bishops, the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East were never far from our minds, hearts and prayers.The daily reports of conflicts, turmoil, bloodshed and violence can leave no one indifferent and unconcerned. With Pope Benedict we share a special bond with our brother bishops, especially of the churches of the East who continue to guide their precious faithful and care for them in the most difficult of circumstances. We are one with them in their witness of opposition to violence from any quarter and in their appeals for peace for all peoples and nations in the Middle East.
While we have a special bond with the suffering Christians throughout the Middle East, our care extends to all peoples of every faith and every nationality. We urge a change of heart and mind on the part of all those who sow division and hatred. We plead with leaders of nations to show respect for the rights and dignity of all the citizens of their respective countries. We insist that peace, which is ultimately a gift of God, must be made the goal of every nation not only internally but in consort with all the nations and peoples of the region.
When innocent women and children are slaughtered, when journalists are killed pursuing their profession, when the defenseless are cut down on their way to work or even in their homes, then those responsible must be brought to reasonable justice. Violence so often leads to more violence. War is always a loss for humanity whether it be civil and internal or nation to nation.
In a time of political uncertainty, economic suffering and social and cultural crisis, men and women of good will must reach across the divisions that have separated them and become peacemakers refusing to be caught up in the whirlwind of hatred and death that violence sustains. As bishops of the Catholic Church, we urge our brothers and sisters in the Christian Churches as well as all our brothers and sisters and the religious leaders of all faiths to renew their commitment to work together, to pray and to use all their good offices to offer an alternative to division, conflict and violence. May their words and their example be heeded by one and all including nations outside the Middle East whose own words and actions must serve reconciliation and not division, mutual respect and not hatred, justice and not violence. In this way conflicts might be resolved by peaceful means and peace based on justice, freedom and security might be the new heritage of all the peoples and nations of the Middle East.
Preocupación por la Paz en el Oriente Medio
Durante la reunión del Comité Administrativo de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos, no dejaron nunca de estar presentes en nuestras mentes, corazones y oraciones los continuados conflictos en el Oriente Medio. Los reportes diarios sobre conflictos, caos, violencia y derramamientos de sangre no pueden dejar a nadie indiferente y despreocupado. Junto al Papa Benedicto compartimos un vínculo especial con nuestros hermanos obispos, especialmente los de las iglesias del Este, quienes continúan guiando y cuidando a sus queridos fieles en las circunstancias más difíciles. Estamos unidos a ellos en su oposición a la violencia, de dondequiera que esta venga, y en sus súplicas por la paz para todas las gentes y naciones del Oriente Medio.Aunque estamos unidos de forma especial a los cristianos que sufren por todo el Oriente Medio, nuestra preocupación se extiende a todos los pueblos de cualquier credo y nacionalidad. Urgimos a todos aquellos que siembran la división y el odio a que ocurra un cambio en sus corazones y sus mentes. Rogamos junto a los líderes de las naciones, a que se respeten los derechos y la dignidad de todos los ciudadanos de sus respectivos países. Insistimos en que la paz, que es a fin de cuentas un regalo de Dios, debe ser a lo que todas las naciones aspiren, no solo internamente, sino también entre todos los países y gentes de la región.
Keywords: conflict, violence, Middle East, Syria, Afghanistan, Catholic Church, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, peace, Christians, good will, hatred, suffering, cycle of violence, justice
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