NEW YORK – As the war in Israel wages on, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference International Justice and Peace chair is urging Catholics to “not grow weary” in praying for a just outcome.
“We must not grow weary of offering our prayers and support for peace and justice for all concerned,” Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice Peace Committee said in an Oct. 27 statement.
“A lasting solution respecting the rights, needs, and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians remains essential to these ends,” Malloy said.
The conflict in Israel has only escalated since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel.
The Israeli military has continued to carry out aerial attacks and incursions in Gaza ahead of an expected larger ground invasion, with the goal of removing Hamas from power, and on Friday Israel rejected a resolution calling for a ceasefire approved by the UN General Assembly.
Meanwhile, diplomats continued efforts to free the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas. There is also a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that appears to grow by the day, even as aid trucks carrying essential items – water, food, medicine – have been able to get through.
In addition to the hostages, more than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians in Hamas’ initial attack. The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza has said more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, although US President Joe Biden noted in a press conference Wednesday that he “has no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
Malloy said that the conference condemned Hamas’ terrorist attacks and renewed the call for the release of hostages. He also called for the protection of civilian populations, adding that “we affirm continued efforts to allow humanitarian access, including corridors for those seeking safety, and urge Congress to provide support for relief efforts.”
Biden has requested nearly $106 billion for Israel, Ukraine, and other national security needs. The president met with new House Speaker Mike Johnson and Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries on Oct. 27 to discuss the request, but so far Congress has not passed anything. Johnson, a Republican, has said House Republicans would instead bring a separate bill to provide $14.5 billion in aid to Israel, and table further aid to Ukraine until further discussions are held.
Malloy’s call for congressional action echoes that of Catholic Relief Services earlier in the week, when it called on the federal government to act, citing the dire situation that exists in Gaza and Ukraine.
“With ongoing emergency response efforts in both Gaza and Ukraine, we at CRS have witnessed the staggering amount of need as supplies dwindle and food and water become scarce,” CRS said in a statement.
“Under these dire circumstances, we urge Congress to fund the administration’s request for humanitarian assistance – which demonstrates American solidarity and is a lifeline to those caught up in these brutal conflicts,” the statement said.
The war in Israel has caused rising tensions in the U.S., as advocates on both sides of the conflict – but especially the Jewish community – have been targeted and threatened. Malloy warned Catholics to “guard against any tendency to sow hatred against other people of faiths.”
“With passions enflamed in our own communities, online, and around the world, we must guard against any tendency to sow hatred against other people or faiths,” Malloy said. “As the Second Vatican Council teaches, ‘The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion’.”
John Lavenburg on X: @johnlavenburg