Holy Synod Issues Statement on Middle East Crisis

At their fall session held at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America here October 17-19, 2000, members of the Holy Synod of Bishops issued a statement on the current crisis in the Middle East.

The full text of the statement reads as follows.

“A crisis has arisen in the Middle East. Israeli Jews—both military and civilian—have been killed. More than one hundred Palestinians—many of them children—have been killed by the Israeli military. In addition, seventeen US sailors have been killed and many wounded in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden. The cycle of violence has threatened to provoke ever-greater violence and loss of life. It has also threatened to make the search for non-violent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.

“We express our profound sympathy to all victims of violence, shootings, and terrorism. We pray for those who have lost their lives, and for those who are grieving. We ask the clergy and laity of the Orthodox Church in America to join us in prayer for justice, peace, and reconciliation in the Middle East.

“We pray for the Christians in Israel and those under the Palestinian Authority. For many, the Middle East is the stage for Jewish-Muslim encounter, too often expressed in confrontation and conflict. Often, the indigenous Christian communities are forgotten. Yet, in truth, the Christian communities are an indigenous and historic presence in Jerusalem and the whole region—Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and territories under the Palestinian Authority.

“We join the appeals made by the patriarchs, heads, and leaders of the Christian communities in Jerusalem to the international community. It is critically important for the future of the peoples of the Middle East to include the Christian communities in the search for a just and peaceful future for Jerusalem and the whole region. “We pray that the religious communities in the Middle East—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish—will search for a common language and vision of justice, peace, and reconciliation.”