Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper today and called on the Government of Canada to provide leadership to end the crisis in Gaza. In her letter, Bishop Johnson urged the government to build a strategy on Gaza to address: "the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities; the protection of civilians ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, respecting the principles of distinction and proportionality; the need for humanitarian access for life-saving and emergency assistance which is urgently needed, among them medicines, water and repairing of electricity and water infrastructure; and the need for a long lasting solution to this conflict."
A pdf version of the letter can be viewed here: https://www.elcic.ca/Documents/20140801ELCIClettertoPrimeMinisteronpeaceinGAZA.pdf
The text of the letter follows:
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
August 1, 2014
Re: Seeking your immediate attention to end the crisis in Gaza
Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), I am writing to ask for your attention and leadership to end the crisis in Gaza.
Reports from our partner churches and agencies indicate that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, and needs commitment from the international community to ensure protection and safety of civilians and all objects protected by international humanitarian law such as hospitals and clinics, schools and places of worship. To alleviate the suffering of people in this conflict, which has also seen fighting in the West Bank and Jerusalem, unconditional humanitarian access needs to be provided.
The world cannot remain silent; neither can it afford to be neutral when people are dying with little attention given to the international principles of distinction and proportionality in warfare. The number of casualties among women and children continues to rise every day. These are not just statistics; they are innocent and precious lives that need to be preserved. The people of Gaza continue to live in fear of their own lives. The war on both sides must end now. It seems likely that it will not happen without significant international pressure, pressure which the Government of Canada needs to provide.
The widening gap of the psychological barrier between the Israelis and the people of Gaza cannot be allowed to continue and be passed on to future generations. This is detrimental to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis and contributes to creating security risks of both regional and global proportions. There will be no peace in Gaza, if there is no peace in Israel, and vice versa.
We call on the government to build a strategy on Gaza in view of the following considerations:
The need for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The protection of civilians ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, respecting the principles of distinction and proportionality.
The need for humanitarian access for life-saving and emergency assistance which is urgently needed, among them medicines, water and repairing of electricity and water infrastructure.
The need for a long lasting solution to this conflict.
At our 2009 National Convention, the ELCIC adopted a “Resolution on Peace in the Holy Land” (https://elcic.ca/Public-Policy/documents/600.52009-ELCICResolutiononPeaceintheHolyLand.pdf.) that formally commits our church to promote peace in the Holy Land and to regularly pray for peace for all people in the region, especially the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). As National Bishop, I have personally visited the Holy Land several times. I count ELCJHL church leaders among my friends and I have been inspired by their vision for community development that leads to hope and peace. News of death, war and destruction touches my heart most deeply and lends urgency to my prayers.
I urge you to offer leadership for peace.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
c.c. The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Thomas Mulcair, The Leader of the Official Opposition
Justin Trudeau, MP, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Elizabeth May, MP, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Mario Beaulieu, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 145,376 baptized members in 594 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
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