VATICAN CITY: Catholic bishops in the Middle East urged the United Nations Saturday to end the Israeli occupation of Arab lands at the end of a meeting chaired by Pope Benedict XVI.
In a final statement of their two-week synod, the bishops and patriarchs of the region’s Catholic churches said the citizens of the Middle East “call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations, conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.
“The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders.
“The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.”
The statement referred to Security Council resolutions which called on Israel to quit territories seized during the 1967 Middle East War, including east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The synod was marked by repeated affirmations that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is at the root of the tension affecting the whole Middle East.
With its resolution, the bishops said, “Iraq will be able to put an end to the consequences of its deadly war and re-establish a secure way of life which will protect all its citizens with all their social structures, both religious and national.
“Lebanon will be able to enjoy sovereignty over its entire territory, strengthen its national unity and carry on in its vocation to be the model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, of dialogue between different cultures and religions, and of the promotion of basic public freedoms.”
The synod also said, “We condemn violence and terrorism from wherever it may proceed as well as all religious extremism. We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon the religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world.”