"Church leaders with whom we met are particularly concerned to preserve the Christian presence in the region, the birthplace of Christianity," he explained. "This presence is not only important for the Church, but also for stability in the region."
The Christian presence helps encourage tolerance and respect for pluralism, he said.
The bishop had met with Christian refugees who spoke of persecution by the Islamic State group. He said it is clear that the Islamic State wants to expel Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities, as well as Muslims who reject their "narrow, distorted and extremist ideology."
Bishop Cantu welcomed the nuclear agreement with Iran, saying this achievement can be a basis for peace in Syria and for strengthening stability in Lebanon.
He asked that the U.S. encourage the election of a president in Lebanon. The presidency has been vacant since May 2014 due to both internal and international tensions, particularly the Syrian crisis.
"This paralysis must end in order for Lebanon to weather better the crises sweeping the region."
Bishop Cantu stressed the urgency of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid the several crises in the Middle East. His letter to Rice said the status quo is "unsustainable" and "dangerous" for both Israelis and Palestinians.
The bishop included a statement from the bishops of the Holy Land Coordination, "You Are Not Forgotten." That statement recognized Israel's right to live in security, while warning of the effects of Israeli occupation in Palestine.
Bishop Cantu called for "renewed efforts to achieve a peace agreement that provides security and recognition for Israel and a viable and independent state for Palestinians."
He said the Holy See's recent recognition of Israel must be followed by concrete action. The situation in Gaza is "dire" and the population there suffers from isolation and desperation.
"I would again highlight the injustice being perpetrated in the Cremisan Valley. Bulldozers have begun to uproot ancient olive groves belonging to Christian Palestinians in the West Bank near Bethlehem," Bishop Cantu commented.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The bishop said Israel's security barrier route should not effectively confiscate Palestinian land and compromise the ministry of Christian institutions and the rights of Christian landowners.
"It if is to be built, it should be on internationally recognized Israeli land," he said.