Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement, has been monitoring closely the developments in the Middle East. Last year, the International Pax Christi Council took place in Amman and Jerusalem and Msgr. Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, was elected as its new International President. Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement, has been monitoring closely the developments in the Middle East. Last year, the International Pax Christi Council took place in Amman and Jerusalem and Msgr. Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, was elected as its new International President.
This year, the Arab Education Institute in Bethlehem became an Affiliated Organisation with the movement. Pax Christi has been organising several fact finding missions and reported on the violations of human rights at the United Nations' Commission for Human Rights. At the UN Commission of this year, Pax Christi International has been focusing on Jerusalem as the Capital of two peoples and Holy City of the three monotheistic religions. Over the recent years, Pax Christi International has been strongly advocating for the Oslo Peace Process, clearly based on the UN Resolutions, and its implementation. With the confrontations and violence of the last weeks, the Oslo process is dying. Today, political speaking, the parties are in an impasse. The confidence between the two protagonists must be restored. What is sorely needed today is a plea for a code of moral values that would help underpin all future negotiations.
The religious leaders of the three traditions could help on this by taking a decisive moral and spiritual lead. An appeal should go out in the name of the three faiths for an immediate halt to all confrontation, and a cessation of all repressive measures or provocative acts by both sides. Large and multiple inter-faith and pacifist initiatives should be organised and led by sheikhs, priests and rabbis together calling for a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two peoples of the land. All necessary measures should be taken in order to restore a modicum of calm and confidence to both parties. It is at such moments of hopelessness and brokenness that all religious leaders worldwide ought to exercise their prophetic ministry and rise above the fray in order to take a decisive moral lead. It is at such moments that they should voice their objection to the escalating human costs in terms of suffering, loss of lives, impact of continued violence on the future generations which is bound to take its toll on communities of both peoples.
It is at such critical moments that they should look up to a vision transcending the ordinary and then act upon it – collectively and with determination. Finally, it is here and now that they should repeat the words of a visionary African American leader, Revd Martin Luther King, who proclaimed 'I have a dream!' in Washington DC in the early 1960's and died later in defending his dream. And perhaps – just perhaps – would the politicians then follow the religious leaders in their reaction to the untamed violence around them instead of playing Russian roulette with the lives of their peoples? If no immediate measures are taken, it is feared that the situation will indeed escalate toward even worse violence. Brussels, 27 October 2000 H.B. Patriarch Michel Sabbah International President Claudette Werleigh Vice President Marie Dennis Vice President Cesar Villanueva Vice President