Mike Butkiewicz
Terra Sancta Pilgrimages

Catholic Bishops’ Position on the Holy Land The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has issued a number of statements in recent years regarding the struggle in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel. Please reflect on these statements as you continue to pray for a just and a lasting peace in the Holy Land.

State for Palestinians “the establishment of an internationally recognized Palestinian state”; “a viable state for Palestinians”; “as supporters of the state of Israel and a state for Palestinians”; “the Palestinian people have a right to a free and sovereign homeland” (2006)

Israel’s Right to Exist It is also necessary for all to recognize that Israelis rightly see the failure of Palestinians to demonstrate full respect for Israel’s right to exist and flourish within secure borders as a fundamental cause of the conflict. (2001)

Mutually Just Claims “The just claims of both peoples should also enjoy the active support of Christians throughout the world.” (2001)

Just & Comprehensive Solution A negotiated peace in the Holy Land should be part of a comprehensive and lasting negotiated settlement for peace in the Middle East. (2001)

End Israel’s Military Occupation “It is necessary for all to recognize that Palestinians rightly insist on an end to Israel’s three-decade-long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and [stop settlements] to the continued establishment and expansion of settlements. (2001)

Preserve Israel’s Right to Security Israel has a fundamental right to security, but security will not be won by ongoing annexation of Palestinian land, blockades, air strikes on cities, destruction of crops and homes, and other excessive uses of force. (2001)

Negotiations, not Unilateral Actions “Does not acquiesce in unilateral actions which undermine negotiations” “President Bush’s recent announcement of support for the unilateral Israeli policy toward Gaza and the West Bank is deeply troubling. The President’s acquiescence in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral approach risks undermining the Road Map for Peace and prospects for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. A just peace cannot be imposed by one side. We urge the Bush administration to return to the traditional U.S. role of “honest broker.” (2004)

Condemns Terrorism Disapproval of the conditions of injustice and humiliation imposed on the Palestinian people as well as reprisals and retaliation, which only make the sense of frustration and hatred grow. There should be a “scrupulous respect for human rights and humanitarian law.” “Israel said … it was shocked and distressed by a senior Vatican cardinal’s likening of Gaza under Israel’s military offensive to a concentration camp.”

Duty of Solidarity of Mother Church “Mindful of our historic debt to the Church in the Holy Land and our duties of solidarity to a sister church in severe need, we ask Catholics in the United States to join in strengthening the church there during the present crisis. (2001)