US faith leaders seek Rice meeting over Middle East peace quest

By staff writers
December 16, 2006

The new Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is numbered among 34 Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders who have written to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for a meeting with her to discuss the "urgent situation in the Middle East".

The faith leaders' letter, sent on 12 December 2006, also calls on the United States government to make peace in the region an "urgent priority", not least by seeking a bipartisan solution to the longest-running regional conflict.

The leaders, acting as the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, issued a public statement the same day, saying that "as Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, our shared Abrahamic faith compels us to work together for peace with justice for Israelis, Palestinians and all peoples in the Middle East."

"As Americans, we again ask the United States to make peace in the Middle East an urgent priority," the statement's preamble concludes. "Our nation has an inescapable responsibility and an indispensable role to provide creative, determined leadership for building a just peace for all in the Middle East."

Quoting from the religious texts of all three faith traditions, the statement says that "building peace through justice is simultaneously an urgent human challenge and a gift of God."

Both faith and civic leaders are seeking to consolidate the new spirit of openness evidenced in some parts of the Bush administration, which has been shaken by the results of the recent congressional elections and also by the findings of the Iraq inquiry.

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