New Group Prays And Works For The Peace Of Jerusalem

Monday of this week found me in Washington, DC at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center among US religious leaders who welcomed the new Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land on their first trip together.

Growing out of the “Alexandria Declaration” of 2002 in which religious leaders made a “commitment to ending the violence and bloodshed that denies the right to life and dignity” in the Holy Land, this is the first “interfaith council” ever to be created in Israel/Palestine and hopes one day to have a voice in “final status” issues of Jerusalem and access to the holy sites for all God’s people.

It was amazing to sit around the table with the Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar; Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamini, Supreme Judge of the Sharia Court in Palestine; Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah; Greek Patriarch Theophilos; Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan; and our own Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem!

We American hosts were convened by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (Retired from Washington, DC); Ambassador Tony Hall (former Democratic Congressman from Ohio); and Representative Frank Wolf (Republican from Virigina). Our team included McCarrick, Archbishop Demetrios (Greek Orthodox); Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson (ELCA); Rabbis from B’nai B’rith and other Jewish organizations and rabbinical schools; Dr. Syeed Mohammed Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America; The Rev. Ron Sider (Evangelicals for Social Action); the Director of World Vision; and many more.     

The group will meet with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice later this week and issue a common statement of their commitment to religious peace and non-violence. Will this new group make any real difference along the path to peace in the Middle East? It is too soon to know. But surely having these diverse people meeting regularly is historic and has its own value as, together, they

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem! 

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