The Right Reverend Pierre Whalon, Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, has released the following statement:
"Reports from the Middle East have never been so discouraging or disheartening as they have been in the last few weeks. I ask the faithful in Europe and all people of good will to join in fervent regular prayer for the worsening situation in Israel/Palestine.
First, we need to pray for the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and their Bishop, Suheil Dawani. Not only are they facing the possibility of war between Israel and Gaza, they also are living through the civil war in Syria and the attempts by the so-called "Islamic State in the Levant" to set up a caliphate.
"Second, we need to pray that a way out of the present crisis between Israel and Palestine be found, and that the world help the two parties take the path of peace.
"Third, we must pray for the victims of this latest round of attacks, beginning with the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teens and the Palestinian boy gruesomely murdered in revenge, and now the people dying because of the salvos being traded along the Gaza Strip. The breakdown of services is affecting not only our hospitals there, but also all the inhabitants. As always, it is the people the news doesn't cover that suffer the most.
"Fourth, we need to pray for a resolution of the Iraqi crisis.
"The situation in Iraq is extremely precarious, and the de facto splitting of the country is a constant invitation to a regional war. Not to mention the leading edge of this destabilization, ISIL, has succeeded in tying the Syria war to the outcome of the Iraq conflict. The great powers will not stand by if Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia go to war over Iraq's oil, on which the Asian powers in particular depend completely. An Israeli invasion of Gaza could be the match that sets off the powder keg. We have all been reminded of the event one hundred years ago that started the First World War.
"The suffering of the Christians of the Middle East continues to increase. Besides those being murdered every day, thousands are seeking refuge anywhere in the world they can find it. It has become quite possible that in the near future, many of the biblical lands will be completely emptied of followers of Jesus if nothing changes.
"It is therefore crucial that people of faith not only pray fervently, but also contact their governments' leaders to demand that every possible effort be made to prevent a conflagration which could even spill over into a Third World War."