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Both Palestinians and Jews need peace and justice

Archbishop Wenski's column for the November 2023 edition of the Florida Catholic

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On October 7, the feast of the Most Holy Rosary, the world watched the slaughter launched by Hamas terrorists from Gaza and the rapid call to arms from Israel that ensued.

Our world is going through one of its most difficult and painful periods in recent times. For over a year, Ukraine has been engaged in a war for its existence. And, now since early October, we have been inundated with images of horrors which have reawakened ancient traumas, opened new wounds, and made pain, frustration and anger explode in the Holy Land and beyond.

The conflict has presented the peoples who inhabit the Holy Land with a “Sophie’s choice” that offers no good options. What happened on October 7th in southern Israel can in no way be justified or excused. We cannot but condemn it. There can be no reason for such a barbarous atrocity. Such senseless violence will never lead to peace or justice for aggrieved Palestinians but only begets more violence as Israel fights to eliminate an existential threat to its survival as a nation state.

But this new cycle of violence has brought to Gaza over 5,000 deaths, including many women and children, tens of thousands of wounded, neighborhoods razed to the ground, lack of medicine, lack of water and of basic necessities for over two million people. The continuous heavy bombardment that has been pounding Gaza for weeks has only caused more death and destruction and will only increase hatred and resentment. It will not solve any problem, but rather create new ones. “An eye for an eye” mentality will only leave everyone blind.

Both Palestinians and Jews need peace and justice. There will be neither peace nor justice if either side denies the humanity, the dignity and the rights of the other. Hating your neighbors is a grave sin against God, who created us all in his image and likeness. To break the cycle of violence that continues to erupt over the past decades requires the engagement of the religious, civil, and political society of each side — as well as the international community — to work more seriously than it has so far towards a solution that respects the rights, the needs, and the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, in calling for an end to this war, wrote in a letter addressed to his flock of Palestinian and Israeli Catholics:

“To have the courage of love and peace here, today, means not allowing hatred, revenge, anger, and pain to occupy all the space of our hearts, of our speech, of our thinking. It means making a personal commitment to justice, being able to affirm and denounce the painful truth of injustice and evil that surrounds us, without letting it pollute our relationships. It means being committed, being convinced that it is still worthwhile to do all we can for peace, justice, equality, and reconciliation. Our speech must not be about death and closed doors. On the contrary, our words must be creative, lifegiving, they must give perspective and open horizons.”

The conflict in the Holy Land has enflamed passions in our own communities, on social media, and around the world. Incidences of antisemitism, of “islamophobia” or any other tendency to sow hatred against other people or faiths must not be tolerated. The Second Vatican Council teaches, “The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion.”

May all who love the Holy Land seek to bring about among all the parties engaged in the fighting a cessation of violence, respect for civilian populations and the release of hostages. Let us pray urgently for peace and recall before the Lord all the families and individuals suffering from these events.

While much seems to speak of death and endless hatred, we must never grow weary in praying for peace in the land that Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, called home.

Comments from readers

Michael Angel Martin - 11/29/2023 08:31 PM
Alain Garcia, What is that supposed to mean? That these children of God are no concern of ours? What would our messiah think? https://www.vatican.va/content/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem.html
Michael Angel Martin - 11/29/2023 07:56 PM
Dear readers, I would like to share this statement on the occasion from Pax Christi USA, an organization in which I and numerous Catholics in Florida are involved: https://paxchristiusa.org/2023/11/29/pax-christi-international-statement-on-the-international-day-of-solidarity-with-the-palestinian-people/ For Catholics in the Archdiocese of Miami interested in working for peace and justice in Florida in beyond, please visit: https://paxchristiflorida.org/ In Christ's Peace, Michael
Alain Garcia - 11/29/2023 07:51 PM
Regrettably, both sides reject our messiah Jesus Christ.
Frank j Morera - 11/29/2023 06:38 PM
Regrettable use of the word genocide, which is an intelligent insulting word and contradicts the wise Words of Mons Wenski, prejudice is a condemnable feeling in a Christian person. Evidently the person who commented earlier does not know that Israel occupied those territories when Jordan VIOLATED the 1948 treaty and unjustifiably invaded (as they did on October 7, 2023) Israel along with all the Arab nations in 1967. Who violated such treaty, is the one who invades or the who defended themselves? Obviously, you know the Jewish people through the news reported by the liberal press. The Israelites don't mess with anyone, they are building and developing their country (something doesn’t happen on the side beyond the wall) but if someone mess with Israel they know how to respond. The archbishop’s words are absolutely true, with all due respect yours are not. I know the situation in the region perfectly, firsthand and I have friends on both sides of the wall. I ask the Lord to give you a better understanding of the problem based on reality. Peace of the Lord born in Israel be with you
Gustavo - 11/27/2023 11:29 PM
The genocide and ethnic cleansing the Israelis have committed against the Palestinians(many of whom are Christian) is unacceptable. The only way towards peace is to go back to the 1948 borders.