In a communiqué which begins, “Our coordination has called for justice and peace every year since 1998, yet the suffering continues. So this call must get louder,” the United States Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Italy, and Catholic Bishops in Canada and Europe have released a call for solidarity of Catholics in “prayer, awareness, and action” in support of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Holy Land Coordination 2017 Communiqué: Fifty Years of Occupation Demands Acton was released with the support of Mgr. Duarter da Cunha, Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Europe, and Fr. John Pearson of the South African Bishops’ Conference.
The statement refers to “ill-will on all sides” as a contributing factor to the impasse in a series of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but the statement’s primary focus is on the humanitarian crisis which has developed during a ten-year blockade against the Palestinians.
The Bishops called for a two-state solution, and referenced Pope Francis’s prior statement in concern to the peace talks, in which the Pope called for “mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.”
The Vatican has worked to raise awareness of the Palestinian plight for a number of years, but is often met with criticism, as the Church attempts to balance Israeli sensitivities against a Palestinian reality in which human rights have, and are, being violated.
In October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI held the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, in which the Vatican called for a two-state solution, and referenced Israel’s rejection of extending the moratorium on development in the West Bank during the peace talk process.
The closing statement of the 2010 Synod which read “Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable” was an attempt by the Vatican to remind followers of three world religions – each with some narrative claim to the areas in dispute – the Catholic Church does not recognize a Biblical birthright to territories for which the Catholic, Jewish and Islamic religions each consider Holy Land.