- CANADA: Church leaders call for ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon
- IRELAND: House of Bishops issues statement on Middle East
- SOUTH AFRICA: Ndungane issues statement on Israel, Lebanon and Palestine
- SOUTH AFRICA: Churches want Pretoria to call Middle East truth commission
- SRI LANKA: Bishop fights Britain's visa fingerprint obligation
CANADA: Church leaders call for ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon
[Source: Anglican Journal] Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian leaders to remember Canada’s “proud history of peaceful intervention” and seek ways to help end the escalating war between Israel and Lebanon.
“Once again, the peoples of the world are compelled to witness violence, hatred and pain in Israel and Lebanon,” Hutchison said in a statement. “In the past few days the escalation of violence has greatly disturbed me, and all parties involved in the conflict need to be able to pause, take a step back and look for other solutions than those of guns, tanks and bombs.”
Hutchison urged all Anglicans and parishes across the country to set aside a time of prayer for peace and called on Canadians not to take the continuing bloodshed in that region lightly. “None of us must ever become complacent about the pain, anxiety and sheer terror that many innocent people on both sides of the border have and are experiencing as they flee from their homes to an uncertain future,” he said.
Full story by Marites N. Sison
IRELAND: House of Bishops issues statement on Middle East
[Source: Church of Ireland] The Church of Ireland House of Bishops issued the following statement on the “tragic situation” in the Middle East:
“The on-going tragic situation in the Middle East, with such widespread human suffering for men, women and little children of different backgrounds, is a challenge to all of us. Arabs, Jews, Lebanese, Palestinians and Christians are caught up in events which bring death to the innocent and destruction to homes and essential services. The cries of the suffering cannot be ignored.
“The complexities of the Middle East mean that only a painstaking and determined effort will resolve the conflict and produce any long-term settlement. However, we add our voices to those who have called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East and for the establishment of contacts between all warring factions. We appeal to people in Ireland to pray for an end to the violence and the emergence of a just and lasting settlement to a situation of such suffering and complexity.”
SOUTH AFRICA: Ndungane issues statement on Israel, Lebanon and Palestine
[Source: Anglican Church of Southern Africa] Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town has issued a statement July 24 referring to the situation in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine as "nothing short of a tragedy," and insisting that humanitarian law must be upheld especially when the civilian population suffers most.
"I recognize that there is no easy solution to the long and complex problems of the region. But two things are clear," he said. First, though countries and their populations have a right to live in peace and security, this must only be pursued by means that are proportionate and permissible under international norms. Humanitarian law, in particular, must be upheld. It is unacceptable that civilians should bear the brunt of hostilities, as now seems to be the case.
"Second, a lasting and stable settlement will only be achieved through negotiations between all the interested parties. Continued fighting brings nothing but the destruction of life and infrastructure, and needlessly delays and undermines the search for a just and lasting peace to which all sides to the conflict must return."
Ndungane also called for an immediate cease fire, "to allow for diplomatic and political solutions to be sought," and urged South African President Thabo Mbeki to use what influence he has to exercise a mediatory role among all parties.
"I encourage people of all faiths to redouble their prayers for peace in the region, as I do also at this heartbreaking time," he said.
SOUTH AFRICA: Churches want Pretoria to call Middle East truth commission
By Donwald Pressly
[Source: Ecumenical News International] The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has called on the government in Pretoria to help broker peace in the Middle East crisis by inviting representatives of warring groups -- including the Israeli, Palestine and Lebanon leadership -- to meet in South Africa to negotiate an end to hostilities in the region.
The SACC represents all of the country's major Christian denominations and on July 24 said the process, which would be facilitated by the South African government, could be modeled on the country's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
"Such a peace initiative could address all affected areas in the Middle East as a result of Israel's recent bombing raids into Lebanon, which have killed scores of innocent people and devastated neighborhoods," said SACC spokesperson Joe Mdhlela. "The SACC believes that South Africa's TRC experience could be adapted and used to bring about reconciliation in the Middle East, and that South Africa should take a proactive role."
The TRC was set up by South Africa's national unity government after democratic elections in 1994 to help deal with what happened under apartheid. It heard from victims and perpetrators of atrocities and sat under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Other conflict areas like Northern Ireland and countries such as Chile have looked to it for ways to deal with divisions that need to be healed.
The South African call came shortly after the US National Council of Churches and its humanitarian agency, Church World Service, said it was among 16 religious organizations calling for President George W. Bush to "work with other world leaders to secure an immediate cease-fire in the violent conflict raging now between Hezbollah and Israel."
The religious groups said in a letter to Bush: "This violent conflict has created a grave humanitarian crisis, and no hoped-for benefit should outweigh the cause of saving innocent lives. If this conflict continues, the current humanitarian crisis could escalate toward a catastrophe."
For its part, the South African church council expressed support for a call made by the Middle East Council of Churches, urging the international community to "put pressure on all sides concerned to engage in a political dialogue."
"It is our view there will be no winners in this conflict unless there is a negotiated settlement accompanied by a process of reconciliation,” Mdhlela said. We are calling the South African government to work vigorously with other governments and international institutions for the realization of a lasting and just peace in the Middle East."
SRI LANKA: Bishop fights Britain's visa fingerprint obligation
By Anto Akkara
[Ecumenical News International] Anglican Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, Sri Lanka, says he will not visit Britain unless it lifts the mandatory fingerprinting of visa applicants from his nation, or applies it to citizens of all countries.
"This is discriminatory and an insult to the Sri Lankan citizens," said Chickera, as he described his campaign against British fingerprinting requirements for Sri Lankan visa applicants, along with citizens of several African nations. "I know this decision is a costly one for us as our mother church is there. But, my conscience does not permit me to honor this partisan requirement."
Britain made fingerprinting mandatory for Sri Lankans applying for visas in 2004 after introducing it in 2003 on a trial basis. It also announced the scheme would be applied to those applying for visas from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.
"Our demand is to make it universally applicable and stop the selective discrimination," he added. "Britain is singling out Sri Lanka and a few others. This is unacceptable."
In his letters, Chickera said the fingerprinting requirement evoked painful memories of a humiliation experienced by Sri Lankans due to suspicion that "all or most of us" are terrorists, asylum seekers or economic refugees.
Many thousands of Sri Lankans have migrated to European countries due to the ethnic conflict in the island nation where more than 65 000 people have been killed and nearly two million people have been displaced from a population of 20 million.