>>Outside White House, Catholic protesters urge Biden to support cease-fire in Holy Land, National Catholic Reporter
On Thursday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, Pax Christi USA and other Catholic organizations held a prayer service at the White House in Washington, DC to call on President Joe Biden, a Catholic, to abide by Jesus’s way of love and heed Pope Francis’s plea to take the side of peace, and urge all parties to:
1) de-escalate hostilities
2) abide by an immediate ceasefire
3) release all hostages
You can also watch the event on the Franciscan Action Network’s Instagram Live account.
The focus must shift to diplomacy, accountability mechanisms, robust humanitarian aid, and strategic peacebuilding.
The witness included offering prayers remembering the saints (November 1 is All Saints Day) and all the faithfully departed (November 2 is All Souls Day), and praying for all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, have been injured, and have died in the war.
Why: Urgent action is needed to stop the mass slaughter and destruction and to save lives. War is trauma, not justice. President Biden and Pope Francis are NOT on the same page.
On October 23, President Biden stated that in a phone conversation he had with Pope Francis the previous day, the pope “was across-the-board supportive” of the U.S. “game plan” in the Israel-Hamas conflict, and “the pope and I are on the same page.” Tragically, President Biden is not on the same page with the pope. If he was, he would support a ceasefire, which the pope called for following his October 29 Angelus prayer. Moreover, if he wanted to truly de-escalate the conflict, President Biden would call on Israel to end the total siege of Gaza and attacks in the West Bank, withdraw U.S. aircraft carriers from the region and stop sending U.S. weapons to Israel. He would then genuinely work for a regional peace summit.
As followers of Jesus, we are challenged to follow His nonviolent example and be His courageous peacemakers. Jesus rejected the ethic of “an eye for an eye,” teaching us instead to love our enemies.
We grieve the loss of Jewish lives on October 7 resulting from the Hamas attack. And we grieve the loss of countless Palestinian lives resulting from Israel’s total siege of Gaza, whereby water, electricity, food and fuel have been cut off, the relentless indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, forced displacement of over one million Gazans, and now a military ground incursion in Gaza, what Israeli officials describe as the “second stage” of the war.
On October 18, Pope Francis declared: “The number of victims is growing and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Everything possible must be done to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe… Lay down weapons and heed the cries for peace from the poor, the people and the innocent children. War solves no problems. It only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future… I urge all believers to take one side only: that of peace.”
On October 20, Pax Christi USA and more than three dozen other national Catholic organizations sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to take the necessary steps to de-escalate the conflict in Israel-Palestine, including calling for a humanitarian ceasefire and for all parties to prioritize corridors for humanitarian aid for the people in Gaza; and to prioritize steps to secure the immediate release of hostages and ensure international protection for civilians.
This was followed by a national Catholic call-in day to the White House on October 24. Alarmed that the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian pause in Israel’s ongoing bombardment and siege of Gaza, and that President Biden’s October 19 Oval Office address so heavily focused on sending more weapons to this conflict while ignoring its root causes, the Catholic leaders warned that this could “increase the dehumanization, destruction, and trauma of all communities involved.” “As people of faith, we condemn Hamas’ attacks and taking of hostages on October 7, and Israel’s retaliatory violence that impacts all the people in Gaza,” the letter states. “We mourn the loss of all life…We affirm that each person has been created in the image and likeness of the God of Love … Now is the time to call for de-escalation and ceasefire, before more lives are lost and the conflict spreads.”
Despite this and numerous other appeals, including from Jewish and Muslim peace and human rights organizations, calling on the Biden Administration to facilitate a ceasefire, President Biden has not done so.
As the conflict continues to worsen each day, the risk of a wider regional war escalates. We act in solidarity with all people of conscience everywhere—Israeli and Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish, people of faith or none—who are calling for a ceasefire now and advocating nonviolent solutions to end this war and bring about a just peace.
This witness was co-sponsored by:
- Assisi Community
- Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
- Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
- Franciscan Action Network
- Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation
- Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
- National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
- Pax Christi USA
- Quixote Center
- Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
- The Isaiah Project
A call and witness for peace took place “on the green” in Woodstock, NY as a show of solidarity with the pray-in at the White House for a ceasefire.