Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Violence in Jerusalem
Twenty-six years ago, my predecessor Cardinal Joseph Bernardin invited members of the Jewish and Catholic communities to deepen the long relationship between our local faith communities by making a Dialogue Visit to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to encourage the peace process. Upon their return, Cardinal Bernardin established an annual event called the Jerusalem Lecture. Tomorrow we will gather again for this lecture, so that we might advance that aim of mutual understanding and respect, both of which are prerequisites for what God wants for all peoples: peace. And yet we will do so during a moment of heart-rending conflict, violence and suffering, which comes during the month of Ramadan, the most sacred time of the year for our Muslim sisters and brothers.
Jerusalem, after which our lecture is named, is a unique place. It contains holy sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The name itself has been said to mean “City of Peace,” a tragic irony in the face of recent and historic clashes that have taken place there. Peace cannot be reached through endless cycles of violence.
There can be no doubt of Israel’s right to a secure existence. Palestinians, too, have a right to statehood, territorial integrity, and safety. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have a fundamental right to access safely their holy sites in the City of Peace. All of these rights depend on a mutual commitment to justice. Violent conflict will not advance these rights, but rather it threatens any chance of lasting peace, without which there can be no authentic human flourishing.
As Pope Francis put it during his Regina Coeli address on Sunday, “I pray that the city might be a place of encounter and not of violent clashes, a place of prayer and peace. I invite everyone to seek shared solutions, so that the multi-religious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City might be respected and that fraternity might prevail.”
I join my prayer to the Holy Father’s in the hope that all parties heed the call of the God of peace, the God of mercy, the Creator of all, who wants all people to abjure violence and injustice with the aim of securing lasting peace.