call for an end to violence
Switzerland, August 8, 2006 – Three world ecumenical leaders, representing
millions of Christians around the globe, have appealed to Hezbollah and
Israel to end the fighting in Lebanon.
The leaders – two of whom are American – also called
upon the United States, the European Union and Arab states to use their
influence to bring the hostilities to a close.
Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Church in
America and president of the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Dr.
Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and
president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and
the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of
Churches, also called upon the Israeli government, the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas to end the conflict in Gaza.
The leaders noted that “the number of Lebanese deaths
approaches 1,000, one third of them reportedly children under 12, and the
number of Israeli deaths moves toward 100.”
Nearly 175 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have
been killed since Israel began military operations in the Gaza Strip,
“Whatever the reality of the alleged provocations by
both sides of the conflict,” the leaders said, “the spiral of violence
serves no end but the devastation of Lebanon and the inflicting of wounds
of terror in Israel.”
Issuing their statement “in the name of Jesus
Christ,” the leaders said their organizations and churches are eager to
help “work for a compassionate order that will lead to a lasting peace.”
They said: “The task is great and the way is hard,
for fear must be overcome with faith, hate with trust, enmity with
reconciliation, and injustice with justice. But it is a task worthy of
out efforts and it is the way that leads to life.”
The full text of the statement follows:
A CALL TO END THE VIOLENCE
As followers of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and as leaders of the
World Council of Churches and the worldwide fellowships of Lutheran and
Reformed churches, we are shocked by the relentless violence, death, and
devastation occurring in Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine. We mourn the loss
of life. We abhor the untold human costs of this conflict, especially its
impact on innocent people. We deplore the destruction of infrastructure
and property. In the face of tragedy of such magnitude, we affirm that God
calls us to do justice, reconcile with our enemies, and live together in
We call upon Israel and Hezbollah to end the fighting in Lebanon, and we
call upon the United States, the European Union, and the Arab States to
exercise their influence toward this end.
We call upon the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas
to end the conflict in Gaza.
The number of Lebanese deaths approaches 1,000, one-third of them
reportedly children under 12, and the number of Israeli deaths moves
toward 100. Whatever the reality of the alleged provocations by both sides
of the conflict, this spiral of violence serves no end but the devastation
of Lebanon and the inflicting of wounds of terror in Israel. Neither the
terror of Katyusha rockets nor the destruction of Lebanese homes, schools,
and villages can contribute to a lasting peace in the region. Such acts
will lead to even deeper hatred between the parties than that which has
fueled the current violence.
The Israelis have declared that they will continue military operations in
Lebanon until there is a "peacekeeping force" on the ground. Hezbollah, in
return, declares that they will not stop fighting until all Israeli
military presence has left Lebanon. It is time for this intransigence by
both parties to end. Israel must withdraw speedily from all the Lebanese
territory, and Hezbollah, at the same time, must cease its actions against
the Israeli people.
Close to 175 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed since
Israel began military operations in the Gaza Strip. The devastation of the
infrastructure of Gaza brings added hardship to people who already have
nothing. The people of Israel know the terror of random rockets launched
day and night.
While it is true that terms for a lasting peace cannot be reached in a
brief time frame, the world cannot wait for signs of "a new Middle East"
to stop the killing. It is time for the leaders of the nations, working
through the United Nations, to bring to bear the full force of their
influence. A cease-fire is an imperative first step to end the violence.
As people of faith, we implore all parties, in God’s name, to agree to
this, lest violence spread further through a region already stained with
the blood of innocents.
When a cease-fire is achieved, we call the leaders of nations and other
parties to begin the work for a compassionate order that will lead to a
lasting peace. Our organizations and our churches are eager to share in
that endeavor. The task is great and the way is hard, for fear must be
overcome with faith, hate with trust, enmity with reconciliation, and
injustice with justice. But it is a task worthy of our efforts and it is
the way that leads to life.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
World Council of Churches
Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick
World Alliance of Reformed Churches
Bishop Mark Hanson
Lutheran World Federation
Photo from the Web site of
the Middle East Council of Churches, headquartered in Beirut.