The bishop blogs

Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land
Bishop Melczek’s blog: Wednesday, September 17, 2014

     Greetings once again from Jerusalem! Today I, along with my brother bishops from the United States traveling on this pilgrimage, celebrated Mass, praying for peace in the Holy Land at the Church of the Visitation at Ein Karem. Just as Mary brought Jesus to Elizabeth and Zachary, so we asked her intercession to bring the Prince of Peace to the Holy Land in these very troubled times.

     After Mass, we met with representatives of the Bureau of World Religious Affairs from the Department of Foreign Ministry of Israel. They expressed their gratitude for the visit of Pope Francis. They also expressed their appreciation for the document of the Second Vatican Council on interreligious dialogue, agreeing with us upon the importance of prayer to solve the very complex nature of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

     On a much more positive note, we later met with the officers of the Consul of Religious Leaders in the Holy Land: a Lutheran bishop, a Muslim, and a highly respected Jewish rabbi. I was deeply impressed with the genuine trust and friendship among them and their positive attitude regarding the possibility of peace in the future.

     They agreed that the solution to the conflict results in a two-state solution and insisted that Jerusalem must be a unified and shared city amongst people of the three religions: Christians, Jews and Muslims. These leaders reminded us that we must make a coalition for peace and not just solve conflicts with force. They shared our strong opinion that peace must be based upon justice. This was a very refreshing meeting because each party genuinely loved and respected the other, and there was a real basis for hope.

     We had lunch with shared prayer with another highly respected rabbi in the community. However, he did not project the same sense of hope that we felt from our previous meeting.

     We then had a deeply moving experience at Yad Vashem, the world's largest museum memorializing victims of the Holocaust. We were blessed with a tour guide who was a daughter of a deeply respected rabbi who survived the Holocaust. This 91-year-old rabbi and his wife also accompanied us. We were moved to the depth of our souls by the acts of violence and inhumanity that we have seen inflicted upon the Jewish people by Satan and the forces of evil. This visit enabled us to put faces on the millions of people who were killed because of hatred for fellow human beings.

     With God's help, may we learn from the past, and may our hearts be transformed to love each other as children of the same good and loving Father.



Bishop's blog at Jacob's Well

Members of the USCCB 2014 Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land gather at Jacob's Well in Nablus, which is located in the crypt of a modern Greek Orthodox church. They offered a prayer for peace at the well and drank water from it. Many believe it to be the place where Jesus met the Samaritan woman. Earlier, the bishops celebrated Mass and met with parishioners of St. Justin's Latin Church in Nablus where parish priest Fr. Johnny Abu Khalil ministers to Christians. (photo by Jennifer Hardy/Catholic Relief Services)


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