Prominent Christian leaders around the world are calling for an end to the violence that erupted in Gaza during the Christmas season.

Patriarchs, bishops and the heads of Christian church bodies in Jerusalem issued a statement Dec. 30 urging an end to the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in hundreds of deaths.

"We call upon all officials of both parties to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts … and urge them instead work to resolve their differences through peaceful and nonviolent means," the statement said.

The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, signed the statement along with 12 others. They included bishops from Syrian, Greek and Armenian Catholic traditions as well as Orthodox patriarchs from Ethiopian, Syrian, Coptic, Latin and Greek communities.

The statement also calls on the international community to actively intervene to stop the bloodshed. In concludes with a prayer for the families of victims as well as residents of the area.

"May the Lord God Almighty grant all those who have lost loved ones consolation and patience," the statement said. "We pray for all those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with calm, tranquility and true peace."

Letter to President Bush Churches for Middle East Peace sent a letter to President George W. Bush on Dec. 29. They said the United States needed to do more than urge Israel to avoid civilian targets.

"There can be no military solution to this conflict," the letter said. "Only a political solution will bring a durable peace to Palestinians and Israelis."
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a member of the religious organization – – a coalition of 22 public policyoffices of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant agencies and churches.

"As people of faith, we care deeply about the welfare of both Israelis and Palestinians and deplore the violent deaths of those caught in the conflict," the letter said.