"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9

Near the end of a day when Archbishop Hosam Naoum of the Diocese of Jerusalem had invited us to join in global prayer and fasting for peace, we received the horrific news that Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza had been bombed, killing hundreds and wounding many more. 

We join Archbishop Naoum in strongly condemning this crime against humanity and insisting that those responsible be held accountable. Under international law, hospitals are to be spared in times of war, as safe havens for civilians. We join Archbishop Justin Welby and others in insisting that the Israeli government rescind its evacuation orders for hospitals and other centers in Gaza. 

“Gaza is bereft of safe havens,” Archbishop Naoum laments. For over two million Gazans who have no place to go, the situation is intolerable and inhumane. As Americans, we acknowledge our government’s strong support of Israel in this conflict. But President Biden must work with our military and diplomatic corps to ensure that innocent lives are protected from retaliation and that residents of Gaza no longer be denied access to electricity, water and food.

While we are geographically far from this war, it is not far from our hearts. 

Many of us in the Diocese of Washington and at Washington National Cathedral have personal ties to the people and the land where Jesus of Nazareth lived, taught, healed and died. Palestinian Christians are part of our diocese. Our leaders are close friends with Archbishop Naoum, other leaders of the Church in Jerusalem, and residents of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. More of our people have traveled on pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine than any other place in the world.

We also have strong interfaith relationships with our Jewish neighbors and friends, classmates and teachers, colleagues and faith leaders. There are dozens of interfaith marriages among us. 

The pain of watching from a distance is wrenching for all of us, compounded by a real fear for some of being in danger themselves. May we have compassion for one another, listen to each other’s perspectives, and speak our truths with conviction and love. 

Supporting the Christian witness in Israel/Palestine to Jesus’ Way of Love, exemplified by leaders of the Diocese of Jerusalem and the hospitals and schools it sponsors, is one immediate way we can provide tangible aid those in greatest need in in Gaza and bolster the call for an end to the indiscriminate killing. The most secure way to send funds is through the American Friends of the Diocese of Jerusalem

Our friend and colleague, the Rev. Sari Ateek, Rector of St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church in Bethesda and a Palestinian American, ended his sermon on October 15 with words we share in closing: 

Pray not for Arab
or Jew,
for Palestinian
or Israeli
but pray rather
for ourselves,
that we might not
divide them in our
prayers, but
keep them both together
in our hearts. 


The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington Cathedral