‘The credibility of the Gospel is at stake’: Pax Christi calls on faith leaders to speak out on behalf of Gaza

Mar 19, 2024
Palestine and Israel crisis as a geopolitical conflict and war between the Palestinian and Israeli people and Middle East security concept and struggling finding a diplomatic agreement.

Faith leaders should stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and should call on the Australian government to condemn all violence that threatens a just future for the people of Palestine, Israel and the Middle East.

This call comes from Pax Christi, an ecumenical Christian organisation. Pax Christi Australia has sent the following appeal to all local faith leaders as it prepares to take part in the traditional annual Palm Sunday peace rally on 24 April. The appeal reads:

Pax Christi Australia, part of the international Christian peace movement Pax Christi International, based in Brussels, works to promote peace with justice and nonviolence locally and globally, having strong links with justice for the people of Palestine.

We mourn the suffering endured in Israel and Palestine and call on peace groups and religious leaders to stridently promote active nonviolence in the pursuit of peace with justice.

Pax Christi Australia has called on the Australian government, to condemn all violence which threatens a just and nonviolent future.

On Palm Sunday, crowds in Jerusalem showered blessings of peace upon The One who came in the name of God, whereas some religious leaders told Jesus to silence his disciples, to which he replied, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Gaza has become a killing field and the stones, the rubble, cry out to the world of genocide and the cries of people under the rubble. The stones cry out through the voice and actions of millions of people. These cries call for response. Yet, there is shameful silence from many church leaders who have yet to voice the call for peace, a call for support of the International Court of Justice, and call for humanitarian aid. It is morally derelict that the silence for peace is crushed by a complicity with Israel’s evil genocide that slaughters our human brothers and sisters.

The dignified pleas of Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres to stop the violence have been ignored. As true followers of the nonviolent Jesus, we are deeply distressed at the silence of those with political and religious power and moral responsibilities. The credibility of the gospel is at stake.

We stand with Pope Francis who said recently, “I will never tire of reiterating my call, addressed in particular to those who have political responsibility: ‘stop the bombs and missiles now, end hostile stances [everywhere].’” And we call upon our heads of churches not to tire.

Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that dialogue is the only path toward a peaceful future. Dialogue must be accompanied by justice and self-determination which Pope Paul Vl proclaimed in his 1972 Day of Peace message: “If you want peace, work for Justice.” Pax Christi joins in the heartfelt appeal for a permanent ceasefire where all women and men of goodwill raise their cry for peace. It is time that Australian Church Leaders imitate loudly, bravely, and honourably the Voice of Peace spoken by Jesus, and by our Pope. “Every day, in my heart, I carry the pain and suffering of the populations in Palestine and Israel due to the ongoing hostilities.” (Pope Francis).

Let us stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people who feel abandoned, forsaken, and face genocide alone.

We demand that Western democracies (Australia, USA, United Kingdom, European Union countries) stop endorsing and supporting Israel in its criminal activity. We demand an end to the occupation of Palestine, which is the root of violence, and to stop illegal Israeli settlements. We demand that funding for UNRWA be reinstated.

Luther Pastor in Bethlehem, Munther Isaac, condemns many when he said in February 2024, ‘When churches justify a genocide or are silent watching from a distance, making carefully crafted balanced statements – the credibility of the Gospel is at stake’.

Negotiations and mutual trust are the only way forward.

‘The Middle East does not need war but peace, a peace built on justice, dialogue, and the courage of fraternity.’ – Pope Francis.

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