Over 140 global Christian leaders call for permanent ceasefire in Gaza

Above 140 global Christian leaders called for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and an end to foreign ministry support for Israel in a letter to US President Joe Biden and other US politicians on Tuesday. 

The letter was organized by Churches for Middle East Peace, which plans to send it to other world leaders. The letter was released during the Holy Week, ahead of Easter, a time when Christians commemorate Jesus Christ’s execution and resurrection.

Among the signatories are the presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as a Guatemalan Catholic cardinal. 

“We, as global Christian leaders, stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Palestine and around the world and say the killing must stop, and the violence must be brought to an end,” the letter says. 

The letter highlights the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

“The horrific actions Hamas committed on October 7th in no way justify the massive deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military.”

Displaced Palestinian woman Laila Abu Mustafa, who fled her house due to Israeli strikes, shelters at the border with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, February 10, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

The letter condemns world leaders who “have responded with empty rhetoric and political volleying about addressing the ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza while ignoring the direct causes of the catastrophe.” 

The letter says explicitly the causes are “the daily bombing and ground invasion by the Israeli military, in addition to the shutting off of basic life-sustaining services to more than two million people who are suffering the consequences of crimes not their own.”

“We implore you to have the moral courage to end US complicity in the ongoing violence and, instead, do everything in your power to prevent the potential genocide against Palestinians in Gaza,” a separate letter stated, which was explicitly addressed to Biden. 

The letter highlights a high death toll and famine in Gaza, as well as the International Court of Justice trial allegation of genocide. “As the ongoing devastation, bombing, and ground invasion in Gaza continue into their sixth month, Palestinians, including our Palestinian Christian siblings, cry out to the world, asking, ‘Where are you?’“ the letter said.

“We repent of the ways we have not stood alongside our Palestinian siblings in faithful witness in the midst of their grief, agony, and sorrow,” the faith leaders wrote.

The letter was delivered the day after the United States did not veto a UN vote calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during Ramadan. The resolution passed with 14 votes in favor.

In their letter, the Christian leaders said they had been clear in their condemnation of the October 7 attacks on Israel and called for the remaining hostages to be returned home. 

They also called for the release of Palestinian political prisoners held “without the due process of law.”

The letter calls for “immediate and adequate humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza,” however, it does not call for humanitarian assistance for the hostages held in Gaza. 

They concluded, “We hold onto the hope that peace is possible even in the midst of this darkest hour.”

Signatories of the letter came from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. 

They represented numerous Christian groups, including Catholic bishops, Catholic sisters, Quakers, Mennonites, evangelicals, Antiochian Orthodox Christians, and leaders from the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of England, the Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Lott Carey Foreign Baptist Mission Convention, United Reformed Church, Church of Scotland, African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church, Church of the Brethren, Community of Christ, Christian Reformed Church of North America and Armenian Church of America (Eastern).

There are approximately five million Christian faith leaders worldwide, including all different denominations, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

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