Following the outbreak of the conflict, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, patriarch of Jerusalem, signed a statement in which, in addition to calling for a de-escalation of the conflict, emphasized the importance of preserving the Status Quo regarding the holy sites. This is a set of rules that regulates access to and use of the main holy sites since the time of the Ottoman Empire.
The same concern was reiterated in a joint statement by the patriarchs and heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem. Christian religious leaders have raised their voices together “to advocate for the cessation of all violent and military activities” and “condemn any acts that target civilians.”
The Custody of the Holy Land issued a statement on Oct. 10 inviting all the faithful to “pray and fast for peace.” The Franciscan communities, the statement reads, “pray for all the victims, especially the civilians and the hostages. And for their families. Let us pray so that the hatred, anger, and fear that generate violence go out in hearts. Let us pray so that the international community fosters initiatives of mediation and peace, especially in protecting civilians.”
At the moment, there is no news of specific prayer initiatives, given the state of emergency that discourages gatherings. The patriarch himself has suspended official entry ceremonies into dioceses. However, at ordinary liturgies, there is a greater intensification of prayers for peace.
On Monday, Oct. 9, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the daily procession of the Franciscans to the places of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus concluded with a specific prayer for peace in the Holy Land.
“For more than seven centuries, the Franciscans, in times of war or peace, of excavation or work, have visited every day the places of the passion of Jesus,” the president of the Holy Sepulcher, Brother Stéphane, explained to media after the prayer. “Here, Christ has risen! Here, he has defeated the world! Today, we wanted our prayer to be particularly focused on asking for peace for this land, which is now being torn apart once again, so that everyone can live in this land in peace and in safety.”