16 NOVEMBER 2001

At their November meeting, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales discussed the current situation in the Holy Land.

The Bishops expressed their profound sympathy for those who suffer in the Holy Land, and their concern for all the peoples of the region.

They noted that the UN resolutions are the only basis for a just peace, and that the illegal occupation must be brought to an end, adding that "each killing is a new step up the spiral of violence".
The Bishops offered their support and solidarity to the Christian communities of the Holy Land.
The full text of the Bishops' resolution follows:


The Bishops' Conference expresses its profound sympathy to all those who have suffered and are suffering in the Holy Land.
The Resolutions of the United Nations remain the necessary basis for justice in the region, and for the secure peace of both Israelis and Palestinians.  In particular, the illegal Occupation needs to be brought speedily to an end: otherwise the appropriation of territory by force will have been successfully consolidated.  The invasion and blockade of Palestinian cities likewise cannot be condoned: this practice destroys the fabric of their social and economic life.
It is essential that Jerusalem be a city fully open to the peoples of two nations and three faiths.

The Conference condemns the vicious and random murder of innocent people. It also condemns the practice of systematic political assassination. Such murders can have no moral or legal justification.
The perpetrators of many acts of extreme violence have claimed them to be responses to earlier such acts of the other side.  Such attempts at justification ignore the reality that a retaliatory killing is always a new step up the spiral of violence.
The Conference assures the entire Christian community of the Holy Land, and particularly the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, of its prayer, solidarity and support. The Catholic Church in England and Wales will continue to find practical ways of expressing this support.
The Bishops' Conference is well aware of people's natural anxieties about the safety of pilgrims to the Holy Land under current conditions. Nevertheless the Conference earnestly commends the practice of pilgrimage to the Holy Places and to the Christian communities of the Holy Land, undertaken with due advice.

Catholic Media Office