Pax Christi International and Ecumenical Delegation Return From Holy Land

April 18, 2002


A PAX CHRISTI USA RAPID RESPONSE NETWORK MESSAGE
Subject: Pax Christi International Returns from Holy Land

Dear Pax Christi Members and Friends,

Greetings of peace.  Below you will find the following documents from Pax
Christi International:

1.  Information:  Ecumenical Delegation Returns from Holy Land
2.  Pax Christi International Press Release - April 16, 2002
3.  Ecumenical prayer service prepared by Pax Christi Ireland

Please continue to pray and act for peace in the Holy Land.

Blessings of peace,
Phyllis

Phyllis Turner Jepson, Director
Pax Christi USA
Local/Regional Group Development Office
Email: paxwpb@gate.net
Web: www.paxchristiusa.org
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Reference:  121PLE
Wednesday, 17 April 2002

Information for the Press
Ecumenical Delegation Returns From Holy Land
 

Pax Christi International participated in an Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage
which has returned from the Holy Land. Members of the delegation issued a
press release which you can find below.

The delegation had meetings with Church leaders, Christian Organisations,
and especially with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights
organisations. Msgr. Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is the
President of Pax Christi International. The Arab Educational Institute in
Bethlehem is an Affiliated Organisation to our movement.

The delegation members felt strongly that they were carried by hundreds of
messages from individuals and organisations worldwide. The “Chain of Prayer
and Light” is an initiative stimulated by the Pax Christi International
Internet appeal (available in English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian
and Spanish). See website: www.paxchristi.net

Middle East situationPax Christi International fully supports the Ecumenical
Accompaniment Programme (EAPPI) in Palestine and Israel, initiated by the
World Council of Churches (WCC). The EAPPI will allow a broader role for the
international ecumenical movement, as requested by the churches in
Jerusalem. Participants in the programme may engage in a number of tasks,
including human rights monitoring, advocacy, and supporting non-violent
resistance by local Palestinian and Israeli peace groups. The Ecumenical
Accompaniment Programme's mission is the accompaniment of Palestinians and
Israelis in non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the
occupation. The EAPPI is open to churches and ecumenical organizations in
the broad ecumenical movement. RevIt is important for observers to relate
with both Israelis and Palestinians.

For further background on the call behind the Ecumenical Accompaniment
Programme in Palestine and Israel, please contact Media Relations Office,
e-mail: ka@wcc.coe.org

“Shared Vision for Peace” is the title of an ecumenical prayer service
prepared by Pax Christi Ireland. (See below).  We invite all our partners
and members to continue to pray and to act for a just peace in the Holy
Land.

With kind regards,
 Paul Lansu
paul@paxchristi.net

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PRESS RELEASE
Ref.: ME.51.E.02

Press Release

April 16, 2002
 

8 - 13 April 2002, an ecumenical delegation of peace pilgrims from five
European countries visited Israeli and Palestinian Peace Organisations in
the Holy Land. For the members of the International Fellowship of
Reconciliation, Pax Christi International and the network of peace churches
"Church and Peace", the purpose of this visit was to express their
solidarity with all those committed to the preservation of human rights and
to overcoming violence by peaceable means.

The group met with, among others, the Latin Patriarch of the Catholic Church
and President of Pax Christi International Michel Sabbah, the speaker for
“Rabbis for Human Rights” Jeremy Milgrom, representatives of the Commission
for Justice and Peace in Jerusalem, the Centre for Jewish-Arab Cooperation’s
"Open House" in Ramle near Tel Aviv, the Committee against House Demolition,
the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace, Checkpoint Watch, Peace Now, the
two centres for conflict resolution, Reconciliation in Bethlehem and the
Arab Educational Institute, also in Bethlehem.

The present situation is characterised by despair, fear and a daily struggle
for survival in the occupied territories.  With no perspective for a more
hopeful future, the present situation cannot be overcome.

In their discussions, the European guests found a large area of agreement
between Israeli and Palestinian peace groups.  The fundamental cause for the
present situation has repeatedly been explained to be the occupation of the
Palestinian territories and its consequence, without an end to this
occupation, security is considered unattainable for Israel as well.

The on-going violence against the Palestinian people was condemned as much
as the violence against Israelis, in the form of suicide attacks, has been
condemned. Peace groups describe the Gaza Strip as one huge prison, while
the people of the West Bank are also virtual prisoners. The spiral of
violence must end.  As soon as a truce is reached, a political peace plan
must be put into effect.  For the Palestinians who have suffered
humiliation, it is a matter of life or death.

Once a truce is established the Israeli Army must be withdrawn from the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. The only foundation for any future peace for either
side lies in a two-state solution with secure boundaries and with Jerusalem
being the capital city of both the State of Israel and the new State of
Palestine.  To achieve this, international help from outside, in the form of
a UN mission, is indispensable.

"We need a win-win solution…” said a member of the Commission for Justice
and Peace in Jerusalem, “…in which neither side loses face”. In order to
achieve this, many peace groups insist on an arms embargo, economic
sanctions and a stop to the extension of new Jewish settlements in the
occupied territories.  In order to reach a permanent solution, the economic
and social inequality between Israeli and Palestinian society must gradually
be reduced.

Yehezkel Landau of the Jewish-Christian-Moslem meeting centre "Open House"
in Ramle expressed the opinion that after all that had happened in the past
weeks, no peace plan, however rational, would suffice.  Pain, despair and
distrust are so strong that persons trained in empathetic listening,
non-violent communication and conflict resolution are needed in order to
overcome psychological barriers and to start the processes of reducing
hostility and of reconciliation.  "We need a detoxification of language"
said Landau.

Local peace organisations continually emphasised the importance of visits of
solidarity, particularly at this time, and expressed their gratitude for the
presence of international peace groups in the country.

The members of the ecumenical peace group were Dr. Hildegard Goss-Mayr
(Vienna), Honorary President of the International Fellowship of
Reconciliation, Paul Lansu (Brussels), staff member of the International
Secretariat of Pax Christi, Minke de Vries (Neufchatel, Switzerland),
long-standing leader of the Ecumenical Community Grandchamp, Dr. Christian
Renoux (Paris), member of the board of the French branch of the
International Fellowship of Reconciliation and Clemens Ronnefeldt  (Krastel,
Germany), peace worker for the German branch of the  International
Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The group was strengthened by several hundred people in various parts of the
world who expressed their support for the delegation of peace pilgrims in
worship services, vigils and fasts.

Participants’ Contact Details:
Dr. Hildegard Goss-Mayr: +43 1 4855714
Fr. Paul Lansu:  paul@pax.christi.net
Dr. Christian Renoux, +33 1 53280043
Clemens Ronnefeldt, +49 6762-2962
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PRAYER SERVICE

Shalom, Salaam, Siocháin

Shared Vision for Peace
 

Introductory Reflection:

No one can understand mankind without understanding the faiths of humanity.
Sometimes naïve, sometimes penetratingly noble, sometimes crude, sometimes
subtle, sometimes cruel, sometimes suffused by an overpowering gentleness
and love, sometimes world-affirming, sometimes negating the world, sometimes
inward looking, sometimes universalistic and missionary minded, sometimes
shallow and often profound – religion has permeated human life since early
and obscure times. (Ninian Smart, Religious Experience)

Religion helps to unite people in a shared experience and explanation of
life. It provides a pattern of human behaviour, often in response to the
hazards of life. It provides an agreed way of looking at the world. It gives
the individual a sense of purpose and meaning.

Religious expressions reflect deepest sentiments, the sense of the sacred
and values in the lives of the faithful. As the world is getting globalised,
time and space is being compressed more and more, it is becoming more and
more imperative that we fail to develop a global ethic we will fail to
survive as people on this earth.

A Swiss theologian reflects this well in saying: “No survival without a
world ethic. No world peace without peace between the religions. No peace
between the religions without dialogue between the religions.” This theme
was well reflected at the centenary celebration of the Parliament of World
Religions just a few years back.

Pax Christi as an international peace movement has been very conscious of
the importance of dialogue among religions. For many years it has been
engaged in the promotion of dialogue between different religions and within
the Christian religion itself.

The Biblical concept of “Shalom” is not just the absence of war but also the
presence of full human development incorporating the economic, social and
political as well as personal dimensions of life. For true peace to exist
the rights of all must be vindicated in practice, the needs of all must be
fulfilled; justice and love must reign in society.

In the Old Testament peace has a messianic dimension: it will be the new
Reign of Justice, love and peace inaugurated through the Messiah. In the New
Testament peace is the Kingdom, now inaugurated in Christ the Prince of
Peace, to be completed by people of good will. The members of Pax Christi
are conscious in a special way that “peacemaking is not an optional
commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be
peacemakers not by some movement of the moment but by Christ Jesus”.
 

God of Peace With The Jewish People

Judaism is the oldest of the world’s three great monotheistic religions and
is the parent both of Christianity and Islam. At the heart of Judaism is the
belief that there is only one God, who is creator and ruler of the whole
world. He is transcendent and eternal. He sees everything and knows
everything. He has revealed his Law (Torah) to the Jewish people and chosen
them to be a light or example to all mankind.
 

A Reading from the Book of Isaiah

He shall judge between the nations,
And shall decide for many peoples;
And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more. (Is 2, 4)

Let us open our hearts to allow God to transform the roots of war in each of
us into shoots of peace. Let us pray that we may use our God given abilities
and the resources of this earth for human development and peace.

In a very special way let us remember the suffering of the people in the
Middle East. Let us pray for peace in the Holy Land remembering especially
or international president, Patriarch Michel Sabbah in Jerusalem his work
for peace.
 

God of Peace with the Muslims

Islam began in Mecca about AD 610. It is based on the Word of God,
transmitted to the people by Mohammed. Te word Islam means ‘submission to Go
d’s Law’, as presented in the Koran. At the present time, Islam has almost
one billion adherents, or roughly one sixth of the world’s population, from
the African shores of the Atlantic to Indonesia.

  A Reading from the Qur’an:

He is Allah, besides whom there is no other god. He is the Sovereign Lord,
the Holy One, the giver of Peace, the Keeper of Faith; the Guardian, the
Mighty One, the All powerful, the Most High!. Exalted be He above their
idols!. He is Allah, the Creator, the Originator, the Modeller. His are the
gracious names. All that is in heaven and earth gives glory to Him. He is
the Mighty, the wise One.’ Surah 59:23

Let us pray for all Muslim people in the world, that the God of hope and
peace, may continue to guide them to find just peace for their own people
and for the whole world working in co-operation with all people of good
will.

God of Peace With the Christians:

 A Reading from Isaiah:

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light:
Light has dawned upon them,
Dwellers in a land as dark as death…
For a boy has been born for us, a son given to us
And he shall be called Prince of Peace (Is 9: 1-6)
 

Let us reflect on what the Catholic Church has to say about peace & justice:

“Peace is not merely the absence of war. Nor can it be reduced solely to the
maintenance of balance of power between enemies.” (Gaudium et Spes, n.78)

“Peace is never attained once and for all, but must be built up
 ceaselessly.” (Vatican II, “Gaudium et Spes” n.78)

“Peace is the fruit of anxious daily care to see that everyone lives in
justice as God intends.” (Populorum Progressio n.76)

“Peace remains an empty word unless it is translated into social structures
which rest on truth and justice, freedom and love”. (Pacem in Terris n.167)

“Excessive economic, social and cultural inequalities among peoples arouse
tensions and conflicts, and are a danger to peace…To wage war on misery and
to struggle against injustice is to promote, along with improved conditions,
the human and spiritual progress of all, and therefore the common good of
humanity.” (Populorum Progressio n.76)

Muslim Jewish Christian Prayer for Peace (From Pax Christi USA)

O God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is you who turn
our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of war.

Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember,
and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God,
children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
 enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estra nged
join hands in friendship; nations seek the way of peace together.

Strengthen our resolve to give witness
to these truths by the way we live.

 Give to us:
Understanding that puts and end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower al people to live in your law of love.
 Amen