Church Leaders Write to President Bush

HNP Communications Franciscan World

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Franciscans are one of many religious communities who signed a Jan. 23 letter to President Bush asking for peace in the Holy Land. The letter, generated by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), was delivered on Jan. 25 to all Senate and House Leaders.

The letter is the basis of an ad in the January 30th edition of Roll Call, a widely-read publication on Capitol Hill. CMEP encourages advocates to contact their Congressional offices to raise up the main points of the letter, according to Corinne Whitlatch, executive director of the organization. In the new political climate on Capitol Hill, this is a good opportunity to urge bi-partisan work towards a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, as stated by President Bush in his 2007 State of the Union address, results in two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security, Whitlatch said.

The Franciscans signed onto this letter through the English-Speaking Conference Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee chaired by Br. Mark Schroeder, OFM, of the St. Barbara Province, according to Russell Testa, director of Holy Name Province’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.

In the letter, Orthodox, Catholic, mainstream and evangelical Protestants appealed to President Bush for peace in the Holy Land.

Excerpts of the letter are below. The full text can be found on the Web site of CMEP which also includes dates of a May advocacy conference.

We come to you with two interrelated appeals that are central to our faith-motivated quest for peace with justice. First, we ask that you make Israeli- Palestinian peacemaking, in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace initiative, an urgent priority for your Administration. We recognize the great many difficulties and struggles that the people of the Middle East region must confront and the heavy responsibilities that fall upon you to help restore hope for a better future for them and for the citizens of the United States. We know that many view the Israeli-Palestinian situation as the most intractable in our troubled world, but we know that when it is resolved, the positive repercussions will go well beyond that small geographic area.

We commend your vision of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living as a peaceful neighbor alongside the state of Israel, with both nations secure and recognized by their neighbors. With your active engagement, this vision could reignite a passion for peace that can overcome the appeal of violence, vengeance and exclusivity. The United States and the world will become safer as confidence grows that the U.S. is willing to take leadership and work cooperatively with the United Nations and other nations to resolve this conflict.