The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, including Archbishop Hosam, have called for a global day of prayer and fasting on Tuesday 17 October—for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the war.
In a statement, the leading ecumenical group in Jerusalem issued the call after an emergency meeting “for prayer and consultation over the grave humanitarian crisis that has befallen all of us”.
They said: “Our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic level of death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.”
The leaders say that the order to evacuate the north of Gaza—the displacement of 1.1 million people to southern Gaza—“will only deepen an already disastrous humanitarian catastrophe”.
They say: “Gaza’s entire population is being deprived of electricity, water, fuel supplies, food and medicine. According to UN sources, 423,000 people have already been displaced because of the destruction of their homes. Many civilians in Gaza have said to us that there are no realistic ways in which they can evacuate to safety in any direction.
“We call upon the State of Israel, with the support of the International Community, to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza so that the thousands of innocent victims may receive medical treatment and basic supplies. Moreover, we call upon all parties to de-escalate this war in order to save innocent lives while still serving the cause of justice.”
They add: “In support of all those who have suffered in this war and of all the families reeling from the violence, we call upon the people of our congregations and all those of goodwill around the world to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Tuesday, October 17th.
“There is yet time to stop the hatred.”
In a subsequent statement, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum, said: “Once again we find ourselves living through hard times in the Land of the Holy One, where we are surrounded by war, violence, hatred, and destruction. Many in our region now live with great fear and uncertainty.
“Nevertheless, from Jerusalem, the City of the Resurrection, I send you all hope for the assurance of a better life: one with a brighter future, more blessed circumstances, and freedom from bloodshed, injustice, and death.
“We condemn all acts of violence and killing, especially of civilians and the innocent. And we advocate for a just and comprehensive peace for all living here. In order to stop the vengeful cycle of violence, we exhort everyone to exercise self-control. Since everyone loses in war, we also call for all parties to pursue peaceful, diplomatic solutions towards a just and lasting agreement for both peoples in a two-state solution. Only in this way can we all enjoy freedom, justice, and peace.”
Archbishop Hosam, who is also the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and Vice Chair of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, added: “To this end, we pray without ceasing for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war. We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers in our countries and around the world, For we are in dire need of hearts that love, show mercy, and are willing to live in unity with others—hearts that respect human dignity and choose life rather than death.
“We therefore all upon all our congregations, institutions, and parishioner families to join with our sister Churches in the Land of the Holy One in observing this coming Tuesday, October 17th as a day of Fasting and Prayer for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the war. We suggest organising prayer services and/or joining with other congregations in their services so that we can pray together with one heart and spirit.
“We entrust the countries of our Lord’s earthly home into the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, asking him to have mercy on us all and to give us his peace and blessing. Amen.”
Read the full statements by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, and by Archbishop Hosam, Primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East