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Primates, bishops and synods from across the Communion react to the Israel-Hamas war

Posted on: October 19, 2023 4:02 PM

Primates and Bishops from across the Anglican Communion have reacted to the Israeli-Hamas war. All are praying for peace and calling for an end to the conflict. 

The Archbishop of Hong Kong and Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Archbishop Andrew Chan, sent a letter of condolence to the Archbishop of Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum. In it, he sent greetings and blessings to the brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, praying for peace from the Lord. He also called on the faithful to pray for peace in Israel and Palestine. 

Church of Ireland Archbishops John Mcdowell of Armagh and Michael Jackson of Dublin have asked all members of their Church to pray for peace in the Holy Land in a statement which accompanied the release of £8,650 GBP in emergency funds to the Diocese of Jerusalem from the Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal for World Aid and Development. The Archbishops said: “the rapidly escalating and degenerating situation in Israel and Palestine awakens within us our deep compassion for our brothers and sisters of all faiths in the Land of the Holy One. Where lives are lost through military attack and response, humanity in its entirety is diminished. We all grieve.” 

The Revd Chuck Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond the US-based Episcopal Church, said: “we offer our prayers and support during this time of violence in Israel and Palestine. In Luke 19:41, we are reminded ‘That when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.’ Many still weep. 

“We pray for those who have been killed, injured, are searching for loved ones, and are struggling with grief and fear. The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has consistently advocated for peace and justice, teaching us all what it means to walk in the way of love, to which Jesus points. 

“We are praying for Israelis and Palestinians. 

“We give thanks for the dedicated staff at al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, part of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and for all who are offering medical care in the region. We pray for their strength and safety.

Please join us in praying that there is a de-escalation and that the root causes of violence and oppression may be confronted and challenged so that a new understanding of peace prevails.” 

The synod of the Diocese of Melbourne met on 15 October, and “lamented the loss of life and widespread injury in Israel, Palestine and Gaza.” It also “condemned the use of violence against civilians.” 

The Revd Chris Porter moved a motion which asked synod not to take sides in the conflict but to pray for peace for all involved. The motion also calls “with Palestinian Christians – for a peaceful resolution to the Nakba, the cessation of violence, and instead the pursuit of non-violent options and calls for prayer for peace in our churches this coming Sunday.” 

“Nakba” is the Arabic word “catastrophe”, it is used by Palestinians to refer to events surrounding the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. 

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier spoke about his experiences visiting the al-Ahli Arab Christian Hospital in Gaza 15 years ago and of how it has been a significant partner to Anglican Overseas Aid, the relief and development agency of the Church of Australia, since 1988. 

In response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s appeal for the evacuation order on hospitals in northern Gaza to be reversed “and for health facilities, health workers, patients and civilians to be protected, Bishop Christopher Chessun of Southwark, in the Church of England, said: “we pray for all the victims of Hamas terror. As it counters terrorist atrocities it is vital for Israel to investigate the missile attack which hit the Ahli Arab Hospital and to reverse the evacuation order on hospitals in Gaza – innocent suffering needs to be avoided at all cost.” 

After meeting in Kimberley, South Africa, this week, the Suffragan Bishop of Reading in the Church of England’s Diocese of Oxford, Olivia Graham, and Bishop Brian Marajh of Kimberley and Kuruman, issued a joint statement saying: “as the Dioceses of Kimberley & Kuruman and Oxford meet in shared friendship in Kimberley this week, it has been deeply shocking to hear of the suffering in southern Israel and subsequently in Gaza. 

“Words are insufficient to describe the horror perpetrated through acts of terror against civilians. The ensuing trauma and consequences are deeply personal and local, drawing many vulnerable people, Israeli and Palestinian, into the conflict, but are also shared internationally through our common humanity. 

“We add our prayers to those of churches and people of goodwill across the world for all who have been affected either directly or indirectly through the terrible violence. Amidst the profound sense of shock and loss our hearts cry out to God for comfort, security and the rebuilding of community.” 

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, expressed his “grief and concern” in a statement: “We are grieved and deeply concerned at the violence in Israel and Gaza, and we unequivocally condemn the attacks by Hamas. We pray for those who are mourning, those who are injured, and all those fearing for their safety. We pray for restraint on all sides, and renewed efforts towards a just peace for all. The way forward must be for both sides to build confidence in a secure future through which Israel and its people can live in security within its internationally recognised borders, and Palestinians have their own state and live in their lands in security, and with peace and justice.”