20 February 2024, The Tablet

Cardinal renews appeal for peace in the Holy Land

Cardinal renews appeal for peace in the Holy Land

Fausta Valentine and Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi outside the Ministry of Defence.
Pax Christi

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols has renewed his appeal for peace in the Holy Land, writing to priests in Westminster Diocese to ask for a special focus on prayer for peace on 8 March for peace and inviting others to take up the call.

He said: “Let us pray insistently for relief for those who face multiple dangers, for an immediate cessation of armed conflict and for every serious attempt at a lasting ceasefire to be sustained.”

Repeating the words of Pope Francis in January for an urgent appeal for a lasting ceasefire, Cardinal Nichols earlier called for the release of all hostages, for humanitarian aid to be allowed through to help those most in need in Gaza and for hospitals, schools and places of worship to be protected. He said the appeal of Pope Francis “takes on a fresh urgency at this moment of extreme danger if a ground offensive were to be launched in southern Gaza, in an area densely peopled by those already made homeless by this conflict.”  He added, “It is an appeal being echoed by many at this time, to whose voices I readily add my own.”

Christian protestors were among thousands who joined a march for peace through London last Saturday. Scotland Justice and Peace urged MPs to vote for a ceasefire this week when the UK government was due to debate whether to support a ceasefire in Gaza. Christians for Palestine UK said it joined prayers with those of the Anglican House of Bishops, “praying for all in Israel and Palestine, and especially for Palestinian Christian communities, to whom we extend our solidarity”. The group joined the bishops “in unequivocally condemning all antisemitic and anti-Muslim sentiment”.

Peace in the Holy Land was a focus of the annual Ash Wednesday Christian peace witness outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. Around 50 Christians gathered for a procession and prayer vigil. They called for the UK government to repent of holding nuclear weapons and of supporting the arms trade.

Organised by Pax Christi, Christian CND, Columbans in Britain, London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice and Peace, participants included members of the National Justice and Peace Network, Justice and Peace Religious Links, Passionists, Columban Sisters and peace campaigners from Arundel and Brighton, Birmingham and Hallam Dioceses. Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns from the Battersea Peace Temple also took part.

Pax Christi Ash Wednesday witness events were also held in Coventry at the cathedral ruins and on the streets of Liverpool where Merseyside peace activists were joined by Society of African Missions fathers and parishioners and clergy of local churches. In Coventry, there was a visit to the Council House to hand in a letter protesting against investment in the Arms Trade. The Catholic Worker in Scotland and Pax Christi Scotland held a vigil at the nuclear submarine base on the Clyde.

In the evening Pax Christi England and Wales organised an online service of lament, repentance and witness. Around 40 people joined in from dioceses including Westminster, Birmingham, Leeds and Shrewsbury.







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