Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Peace in the Middle East

By Bishop David Ricken | June 4, 2014

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt 5:9). Jesus spoke these words in his Sermon on the Mount, which beautifully and simply articulated the need for people to work for peace in our world. For many years, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with so many others, has tirelessly worked to promote peace in the Middle East. Sadly, these people continue to work for lasting peace in that region of the world. The long and bitter conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continues. However, we are now at a potential turning point. Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry, with the support of President Barack Obama, has made a concerted effort to reach a framework agreement as a basis for resolving this longstanding issue.

I, along with the entire conference of Catholic bishops, continue to support a two-state solution that will secure and recognize Israel living in peace with a viable and independent Palestinian state. But we cannot forget that although the conflict between Israel and Palestine does involve a region of land, it also involves many lives, many people and many families. Each life has been affected by the violence between Israel and Palestine, and because of the violence, there have been no winners. Christians, Jews and Muslims have all suffered in this holy land, which is a travesty because of its sacredness. Each faith tradition deserves the right to religious freedom and their access to holy sites.

Additionally, this conflict has had a disastrous effect on the entire Middle Eastern region. Because of the ongoing violence, the region continues to be a tinderbox on the verge of explosion. Many people on both sides are talking about peace, but those talks are jeopardized by violent acts of aggression. Both Israelis and Palestinians need a just peace, a lasting peace that can also secure peace within the entire region.

Pope Francis, who visited the Holy Land between May 24 and 26, has expressed the “hope that both parties will resolve, with the support of the international community, to take courageous decisions aimed at finding a just and lasting solution to a conflict which urgently needs to end.” The phrase, “urgently needs to end” articulates that we all must act now. That action can take many forms like prayer, fasting and speaking out about this great need. We must especially continue to pray for our elected officials so that God may give them the wisdom and courage needed to build peace with justice for all. But, we must also make sure that every elected official hears our united voice saying that we truly do want to establish peace in the Middle East. As we hear in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” (Gal 6:9).

May Almighty God continue to bless each of you and your families!

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