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Mideast Lutheran bishop sees hope for peace, with help

New York, February 1, 2007 The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan, says there is still hope to avert a civil war in Palestine but it will take work. 

"Some of us will try to mediate between Hamas and Fatah," he told a gathering of National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) staff members yesterday. 

"If they don't resort to sanity or the rule of law," Bishop Younan said, there will surely be a civil war.  If that happens, he said, it will likely drive away more Palestinian Christians from the region.

"We need the help of America's government and we need help from American churches," he told the NCC staff.  The main stumbling block to peace in Israel and Palestine, he said, is the Israeli occupation.  Justice for Palestinians, said Bishop Younan, means ending the occupation.

"Don't leave us alone in this struggle," he said, passionately.  "We need you now more than ever to stand with us" in the cause for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.  "We need you to help us liberate Israel from the sin of occupation."

Bishop Younan made his comments on his last day in the United States before heading home to Jerusalem.  He had appeared at Evangelical Lutheran churches, at universities and colleges and other venues during his two weeks here telling the story of Palestinian Christians.

America's Christian Zionists are also a great concern of the bishop.  He has confronted them directly on their unflagging support of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

"I met with an a Christian Zionist.  I told him I was baptized in water and the Spirit," said the bishop.  "Palestinian Christians were new for him," he recalled.  The visitor told the bishop we should be supporting your schools and your ministry here and promised to contact him after his return to the U.S.

"Three months later he wrote me that no support would be coming," said Bishop Younan.  "He told me, 'my people believe more in Israel than they do in Jesus.'"

Bishop Younan told the NCC staff of a new Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land that includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders.  He said he has great hope for that interfaith group.

Bishop Younan made the first translation of the Augsburg Confession into Arabic and was the initiator of dialogue among the three monotheistic religions in Palestine.

The NCC is the ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches.  These 35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.
 


Photos of Bishop Younan, by Pat Pattillo, are available by emailing NCCnews@ncccusa.org .
NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org .
 

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