We cannot be silent!: A statement on Gaza from the Jesuits

We cannot be silent!: A statement on Gaza from the Jesuits

The following statement from the Society of Jesus, “We cannot be silent!”, was issued on 28 March 2024 as the killings in Gaza continue and as famine and disease mount amidst an unrelenting Israeli bombardment. Joining their voices with Pope Francis, the Jesuits repeat the call for an immediate ceasefire, for the release of all the 7 October hostages, for negotiations, for the beginning of a process that leads to true peace. “The choice of death over life, vengeance over reconciliation, wrongdoing over justice, self-interest over relationship, violence over dialogue is a choice and not fated destiny. There are other choices that could be made.”

Almost six months of war in Gaza, and the guns have not fallen silent. We, the members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), like so many other Catholics, Christians, men and women of all faiths and non-believers, refuse to be silent.

Our voices continue to be lifted up in prayer, in lament, in protest at the death and destruction that continue to reign in Gaza and other territories in Israel/Palestine, spilling over into the surrounding countries of the Middle East.

Following the horrors of the attacks on southern Israel on 7 October 2023, the massive Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip, the ground offensive that has left most of the Gaza Strip in ruins, we are now witness to famine and the spread of disease in Gaza.

Tens of thousands have died, almost 1,800 Israelis, over 32,000 Palestinians (not including those still to be unearthed from under the rubble). In addition to the lives snuffed out, there are hundreds of thousands of lives ruined, those who are wounded, homeless, and now hungry and smitten by disease.

We, Jesuits, reiterate our commitment not to remain silent. It is unacceptable that, despite attempts, almost six months into the present round of conflict, no one has been able to stop the killing. It is scandalous that no one has been able to ensure that the residents of Gaza have enough to eat. It is shameful that no one has been able to call the warmongers to account.

Sadly, we remember that an ongoing conflict in the land called to be holy has been allowed to continue and fester as an open wound on the face of the Middle East.

Engaged for decades in the communities and societies of the Middle East, we, as Jesuits, want to say that it need not be this way.

The choice of death over life, vengeance over reconciliation, wrongdoing over justice, self-interest over relationship, violence over dialogue is a choice and not fated destiny. There are other choices that could be made.

We will continue to foster a dream of a different future, a future already foreseen by the prophets in the Holy Scriptures. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

We join our voice to that of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has repeatedly warned: “War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat” (Angelus, 8 October 2023).

We repeat our call for an immediate ceasefire, for the release of all the 7 October hostages, for negotiations and for the beginning of a process that will bring freedom, liberty and justice for all in the Middle East, the only road to true peace.

Originally published in Jesuits Global, 29 March 2024

Image from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees in the Near East

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *