>>Five Catholic activists arrested at US Capitol as part of protest for Israel-Hamas cease-fire, National Catholic Reporter
On Thursday, November 9, Pax Christi USA and other Catholic organizations held a prayer service at the Hart Senate Office Building, 120 Constitution Avenue, NE, in Washington, DC, to call on Congress 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.
Why: Urgent action is needed to stop the mass slaughter and destruction and to save lives. War is trauma, not justice.
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.”
On November 2, Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, and several other Catholic organizations gathered at the White House to urge President Biden to choose the side of peace.
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
- Carmelite Sisters of Vedruna
- Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
- Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
- Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
- Franciscan Action Network
- Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation
- Little Friends for Peace
- 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