Preemptive Peacemaking in Holy Land

Russell Testa Around the Province

As Pope Francis prepares to embark on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Franciscans around the world are being encouraged to help advance peace efforts in Palestine and Israel. Below, the director of the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation describes what the Province is doing to support this movement.

Depending on the given day and the news provider, peace between the peoples of Israel and Palestine can appear to be either progressing or a near impossibility. As Franciscans, we have committed ourselves to the cause of peace and to its pursuit, regardless of the whims of media coverage. However, at present, with Pope Francis’s upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land from May 24 to 26, we have a special opportunity to advance peace efforts. The pope’s visit will bring renewed focus to the situation in Palestine and Israel.

Members of the Franciscan community are invited to participate in a focused Franciscan Peacemaking Campaign that centers around the pope’s pilgrimage. The campaign is designed to raise awareness about the current situation, and the potential for peace. It includes: a reflection from Robert Lentz, OFM, on his recent peace pilgrimage to the Holy Land; background materials on the issues; and an effort to place banners at Franciscan ministries that visually call out for peace and advocacy to keep current negotiations alive.

At a recent JPIC learning session at Holy Name College, friars in formation were given a preview of the campaign. Their discussions deepened their understanding of the multi-layered and challenging issue of peacemaking in the Holy Land. During the session, Robert and Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, spoke about their recent peace pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine. Casey Cole, OFM, who organized the learning session, commented, “It is exciting and inspiring that this Province takes on complex issues like Holy Land peacemaking.”

Campaign materials are being distributed through the JPIC Office and will be available on the Justice and Peace section of the HNP website. Please visit the website or contact the JPIC Office for additional details.

 Russell Testa is director of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.