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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Bishops call for establishment of Palestinian state on centenary of the Balfour Declaration

Catholic and Anglican bishops have called for a two-state solution to strife between the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.

They used the centenary of the Balfour Declaration – when Britain publicly committed itself to supporting the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East – to press for a Palestinian nation to be founded too.

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton (left) and Anglican Bishop Christopher Chessun of Southwark issued a joint statement on the November 2 centenary to say that a two-state solution was the only way to achieve justice and reconciliation between the peoples of the Holy Land.

“On the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration, we commend the work of the Balfour Project ( to encourage justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land, acknowledging  Britain’s past and future responsibilities to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples,” they said in their statement.

“Today the need for prayer, awareness and action is greater than ever.  Israel’s security and development are inseparable from the fulfilment of Palestinian aspirations to statehood.

“We renew our call on the UK government, to recognise the right of the Palestinian people to belong to a state on their own lands, next to the state of Israel. Only justice for both peoples will lead to the reconciliation for which we pray with the Christian Church in the Holy Land.”

Both bishops are regular visitors to the Holy Land and are dedicated to promoting justice and peace for all in Israel and Palestine. In January Bishop Lang will once again lead the Holy Land Coordination, a delegation of Bishops from Europe, North America and South Africa. Bishop Chessun is an active member of this delegation and will also be participating next year.

The Holy Land Coordination, mandated by the Holy See, meets every January in the lands of Christ’s birth ministry, Passion and Resurrection. It aims to promote justice and peace, acting in solidarity with the Christian communities there and share in the pastoral life as it experiences extreme political and socio-economic pressure.

The text of the letter sent by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, a Manchester MP, to Lord Rothschild, a British Jewish leader, that came to be known as the Balfour Declaration was later accepted by the League of Nations in 1922 and embodied in the mandate that gave the UK temporary administrative control of Palestine.

It laid the foundations to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 but it also said “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.


(Words and picture courtesy of the Catholic Communications Network)