Israel/Palestine: Ambassadors of reconciliation

?Saint Paul calls us Christians to be ambassadors of reconciliation,? affirmed ten Catholic bishops from Europe and North America who met in January in Jerusalem, hosted by the Latin Patriarch, to show solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land. Palestinian Christians now form no more than 2 per cent of the population in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and there is profound concern that emigration, as a result of the massive economic problems and insecurity caused by Israeli occupation and the intifada, will result in the further diminishment of the Christian community in the Holy Land. The bishops were wondering how Catholics in the West can urge a cease-fire, support the difficult negotiations, and contribute to a just enduring peace for Israelis and Palestinians, and at the same time improve the position of Christians living in the Holy Land. Regarding any Israeli-Palestinian agreement, another key concern was the final status of Jerusalem, where the faith of three religious communities, the rights of two nations and the interests of all humanity must be respected and safeguarded. Keeping the Holy City open and secure will, in the bishops? view, require the international community to get involved and provide special guarantees. The visitors addressed a message of solidarity to the Christians of the region and drafted twelve propositions for submission to Bishops? Conferences world-wide. Participants included Drew Christiansen SJ, advisor to the US Bishops Conference on the Middle East, Christian Mellon SJ, Secretary of Justice et Paix in France, and Frank Turner SJ [HL20305]