The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is asking the American faithful to pray for an end to the Israel-Hamas war during Holy Week.

“Thousands of innocent people have died in this conflict, and thousands more have been displaced and face tremendous suffering. This must stop,” the bishops said in a statement on Saturday, March 23 — the day before Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week.

“As the Church enters Holy Week and Christ’s suffering on the cross and his resurrection are made present to us so vividly, we are connected to the very source of hope,” they said. “It is that hope that spurs us to call on Catholics here in the United States and all those of goodwill to renew their prayers for an end to the raging Israel-Hamas war.”

The ongoing war has claimed more than 30,000 Palestinian lives, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, and more than 1,200 Israeli lives, according to Israeli officials. 

The conflict began on Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas militants launched an attack across Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip killing more than 1,200 soldiers and civilians. The militants took more than 240 Israeli hostages, and 130 remain in captivity. After the attack, Israel declared war against Hamas, launching continuing air and artillery strikes. About 85% of the population in Gaza has been displaced and more than 1% of the population has reportedly been killed.

“To move forward, a cease-fire and a permanent cessation of war and violence is absolutely necessary,” the bishops said. “To move forward, those held hostage must be released and civilians must be protected. To move forward, humanitarian aid must reach those who are in such dire need.”

The bishops also quoted Pope Francis, who has been calling for a cease-fire for months: “One cannot move forward in war. We must make every effort to negotiate, to negotiate, to end the war.”

The joint statement was issued by Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio, who serves as the president of the USCCB, and Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon Bishop A. Elias Zaidan, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“As Christians, we are rooted in the hope of the Resurrection, and so we pray for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land,” the statement read. 

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