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From the Archbishop

ather than being held by fear, we need to lift our voices and ourselves to that place of trust and rest in God’s love, signs and witnesses for others of our steadfast faith and hope in Jesus for the life of the world.

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The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO, Archbishop

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4).

As Anglicans have been celebrating All Saints' Day and praying God’s eternal mercy, love and grace for our own dear ones on All Souls' Day, it has been hard to hold the images of so many dead and injured as a result of the terrorist attack in Israel and the responding violence in Gaza.

The terror which has left so many dead and held hostage was played out against the ongoing cranage of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. And that alongside the ongoing outbreaks of violence in Sudan and South Sudan.

So much destruction. So much hatred. So much grief and fear and aggression. And so many lives caught in between them instigators of these terrible events.

I have just returned from the National Bishops' Meeting in Ballarat. Each day we prayed for peace between Israel and Palestine

We have heard so many experts speak, military experts, political leaders, United Nations delegates, all giving consideration of possible outcomes which will bring an end to fighting in the situation in the Holy Land. Each is only a moment away from the next incursion, the next action, the next step forward or back.

War isn’t new. The impact on wars across the centuries are well documented. Impact on nations, on communities, on culture, on family, on individuals.

Writ much smaller but still devastating war-like attitudes are also possible in the personal circles we inhabit in family or community, and often come as the result of a breakdown in human relationships and a failure to live by God’s standards of justice. Whether in our intimate circle or on the world stage peace and true reconciliation cannot exist when there is inequality between people, abuse of power, and disregard of human rights.

In these days as we pray for peace in the Holy Land, for a ceasefire, for the safe return of hostages, for food and medical supplies for those trapped inside Gaza, for time to mourn, for leaders to take the first step toward meeting the call to peace, we need to be relying on the promise of God’s loving grace and mercy for the whole world. Rather than being held by fear, we need to lift our voices and ourselves to that place of trust and rest in God’s love, signs and witnesses for others of our steadfast faith and hope in Jesus for the life of the world.

In his 2017 World Day of Peace message Pope Francis urged for a non-violent style of politics for peace: ‘when victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms’.

In 2022 the Lambeth Conference of Bishops called for all efforts for peace and justice:

2022 Lambeth Conference
Statement from The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East
(Sponsor: Archbishop Hosam Naoum)

We, the bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion, called together by the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference in 2022, affirm the vital historic presence of Christians in the Holy Land, the “Living Stones”, where our Saviour Jesus Christ lived, died and was resurrected. In our commitment to the common good of all ethnic and religious communities in Israel, and to those in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we reiterate our conviction that a two-state solution offers the best hope for a sustainable future for all, where both states live side by side in security peace and dignity of all their citizens.
Jerusalem remains a historic part of that future hope, and the existence and indeed flourishing of the Christian presence within Jerusalem should be respected and guarded. We therefore affirm that:
  • Israel is a state that deserves the security and protections of a free state, but is also subject to the demands of international law just like any other state.
  • A two-state solution to the aspirations for self-determination of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, and the end of the occupation, remains the best hope for a just and peaceful resolution to all peoples in the region.
  • Jerusalem is a city that is precious to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities. Therefore, in accordance with the United Nations, we regard Jerusalem as an intrinsic issue with respect to any future political settlement for Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

I leave you with this prayer from A Prayer Book for Australia

God of the nations, whose sovereign rule brings
justice and peace,
have mercy on our broken and divided world.
Shed abroad your peace in the hearts of all
and banish from them the spirit that makes for war,
that all races and peoples may learn to live
as members of one family
and in obedience to your law,
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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