Bishops' statement on Israel and Palestine

The bishops issued the following statement on Oct. 13, 2023, regarding war and violence in Israel and Palestine.

Dear People of the Diocese of Massachusetts,

We share the outrage and horror all persons of faith must feel at the inhumane terror attacks carried out last weekend in Israel, and condemn them unequivocally. There is no justification for the intentional killing and hostage-taking of innocent civilians perpetrated by Hamas, nor for anti-Semitism in any of its manifestations in the Middle East or in our own land.

We know that violence begets violence; indiscriminate violence must not be used to justify indiscriminate violence. We affirm the value of all human life, and decry toxic rhetoric by anyone which dehumanizes an enemy in order to justify their killing or inhumane treatment. The concept of civilian human lives as acceptable collateral damage is antithetical to our faith. Innocent Israeli citizens and Palestinians alike have a fundamental right to safety. 
We join those who call for a de-escalation of hostilities, which is in the interest of all parties in the region and beyond. This conflict not only represents a critical humanitarian crisis, but risks broadening into a regional war. We join in the call for the opening of a humanitarian corridor into Gaza (where 50 percent of residents are children not responsible for Hamas’s heinous crimes), and for adherence by all sides to the principles of the Geneva Convention.

Hamas in no way represents the interests or values of the Palestinian Christians who are our siblings and have been our partners in ministry for decades; indeed, the crimes of Hamas worsen their lot in an already fraught existence. Archbishop Hosam Naoum, head of the Anglican province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, has urged our support for humanitarian relief at that diocese’s Ahli Hospital in Gaza, as well as support for the churches and schools in Ramallah and elsewhere which have already begun to provide emergency shelter to refugees fleeing Gaza. The Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, as well as Episcopal Relief & Development, provide safe and accountable channels for this relief support, now and in the months ahead.

As your bishops, we call upon our people and congregations to provide prayer, advocacy and generous giving in this moment of crisis for our Christian, Jewish and Muslim siblings in the Holy Land. Resource links are below.

We join in this prayer offered by Archbishop Naoum:

O God of all justice and peace we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land.  Be with those who need you in these days of suffering; we pray for people of all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land.  While we pray to you, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace, we also call for you to bring justice and equity to the peoples. Guide us into your kingdom where all people are treated with dignity and honour as your children for, to all of us, you are our Heavenly Father.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Faithfully, in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Carol J. W. T. Gallagher, Assistant Bishop

Resource Links:

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem website:

Episcopal Relief & Development relief effort:

Prayer Resources from American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations (advocacy updates):