As Chair of International Affairs at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and also of the Holy Land Coordination, I have been following with mounting concern the violence that has taken hold again in many parts of Israel and Palestine.
As I pray for the dead and injured from both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, I also call upon both communities and their leaderships to exercise restraint and refrain from going down the slippery road of tit-for-tat killings and mutual recrimination.
During my own visits to the Holy Land, I have witnessed the deep frustration felt by Palestinians at their situation where death is sometimes considered their only painful hope. However, I also appreciate that such despair cannot lead to unbridled violence from either side and that the Israeli authorities need to apply the rule of law.
Today, I recall both the words and spirit of the Encyclical Populorum Progressio by Blessed Pope Paul VI where he reminded us all that peace is the fruit of justice. Therefore, a culture of peace requires a culture of justice too. Otherwise, human relationships will unravel and violence will not always be kept at bay.
I urge Israelis and Palestinians once more to rededicate themselves to undertaking the difficult but inevitable steps that would lead to a genuine peace based on true justice where both sides can live securely and peacefully in their own sovereign states.
Rt Rev Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton