Prayers4Peace: Calling for Ceasefire

Calling for Ceasefire

By: Jordan Denari Duffner, Member of CMEP’s Catholic Advisory Council; Originally published November 3, 2023.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, I joined dozens of Catholic leaders and peacemakers for a demonstration outside the White House in Washington, DC, to call on President Biden to support a ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, as well as other measures to foster a just peace. I spoke in my capacity as a member of the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), which is tasked with helping inform U.S. Catholics about the history and present realities of the Holy Land, and to mobilize our Church to advocate for just policies consonant with our faith. Below are the remarks I delivered, and the video can be found here.

In the coming days and weeks, I will be writing and sharing more about Israel-Palestine here on ‘Digging Our Well.’ If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can sign up for free. I hope you too will share your thoughts, reflections, and prayers in the comment section below.

A girl looks on as she stands outside a building that was hit by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP.

Some members of the CMEP Catholic Advisory Council outside the White House. Left to right: Michele Dunn of Franciscan Action Network; Julie Schumacher Cohen of Scranton University; Susanna Nchubiri of the Maryknoll Sisters; Kyle Cristofalo of CMEP; Susan Gunn of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; and me.

Good afternoon. My name is Jordan Denari Duffner, and I’m a member of the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace.

Most of us here today are Catholics and other Christians, but we join our voices with Jews and Muslims, and those of other faiths and of no faith, who are calling for an immediate end to violence in Israel-Palestine and for a just peace for all in the land that we call Holy.

For too long, many of us Christians—myself included—have been too quiet, or even silent, on the situation of injustice in Israel-Palestine. Some of us might misperceive events in the Holy Land as a Jewish-Muslim conflict, one that we Christians can simply observe and grieve from a distance.

But this is a mistake. When we take this attitude, we forget that our fellow Christians, most of whom are Palestinian, suffer too. When we take this attitude, we ignore the important interfaith and cross-religious coalitions that are pushing for justice. And, most tragically, when we take this attitude, we abandon the core tenets of our faith, which compel us to advocate on behalf of the dignity and rights of all in Israel-Palestine, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or nationality.

We cannot be silent. This is why we are calling for a ceasefire, for the Israeli military to stop bombing Gaza and to lift the siege, to stop attacking Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere; for Hamas to release all hostages and stop its rocket fire; for humanitarian aid and basic services to be distributed urgently and widely in Gaza; and for the international community to push, in the long run, for a solution that recognizes the full and equal rights of Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land.

As Christians, we also recommit ourselves to opposing Antisemitism and Islamophobia in all its forms. We know that we have often failed in this regard, both historically and today. Some in our Christian communities, as well as others, have wrongly labeled all Palestinians and Muslims as terrorists, and have wrongly associated all Jews and Israelis with the actions of the Israeli government. Ideas like these are wrong. They are the basis for more violence and they go against the best and the most central tenets of our three Abrahamic faiths.

Tragically, amid the violence abroad, we are seeing more violence here at home. To give but one example, in Chicago, a Catholic man, a landlord, violently murdered his tenant, a six-year-old child, Wadea al-Fayoume, because he was Palestinian and Muslim. We mourn for this sweet boy and his family, along with the thousands of children, woman, and men, who have been killed, brutalized, and traumatized, Not just in recent weeks, but also in the past many decades in the Holy Land.

The situation in Israel-Palestine often leaves me feeling heartbroken and hopeless—a feeling I know is shared by many others. But I am heartened by the solidarity and prophetic witness from so many Muslims, Jews, Christians and others who are standing for what’s right, often at great cost.

I hope President Biden, our fellow Catholics and other Christians, and many more of our elected officials, will hear our call and push for a ceasefire immediately.

Now, we turn to You, our God: 

God of Agape, of Love: Convert our hearts. 

Al-Rahman, God of Compassion: Embrace those who have been killed. 

El-Roi: God Who Sees Us: Help us see clearly, and to see Your face in each person. 

Bless our fractured human family, and have mercy on us. Amen. 

Our makeshift altar adorned with flowers, a textile from the south Hebron hills, crosses, and holy artwork, including Kelly Latimore’s icon of the child Jesus. (That icon, the painting of the Holy Family, and the image of the dove of peace were things I contributed from my home art collection.)

For more on the Pray-In:

About the Author: Jordan Denari Duffner, PhD is an author, educator, and scholar of Muslim-Christian relations, interreligious dialogue, and Islamophobia. 

Her award-winning books are Finding Jesus among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic (2017) and Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination (2021). Jordan holds a PhD in Theological and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. A former Fulbright scholar, she is also an associate of the Bridge Initiative, where she previously worked as a research fellow. She is also a member of the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), which advocates for justice for all in Israel-Palestine. In 2023, she was also appointed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue. You can read more about Jordan and her work here

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