Faith Leaders Call for Roadmap for Peace in Middle East

( [email protected] ) Jun 02, 2004 09:39 PM EDT

An interfaith group of leaders including the heads of several mainline U.S. denominations called for a quick revival of the roadmap for peace in the Middle East on Tuesday, June 1, 2004.

"We believe in the roadmap. The US government has to do more, and it has to do it now," said Theodore McCarrick, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington during a press briefing following a meeting at the State Department.

Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick of the Presbyterian Church USA recognized that the Secretary of State Colin Powell has been working toward implementing peace in the region. However, Kirkpatrick said the actions must come immediately.

"The major difference (with the group's stand) was the question of when,” said Kirkpatrick. "There has never been a more urgent time for the US government.”

Specifically, the interfaith group, known as the National Interreligious Leadership Delegation for Peace in the Middle East, warned against any plans to hold off action until after the Presidential elections in November.

"We are troubled by evidence that the roadmap has effectively been put on hold until after the (US) elections."

Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America agreed, telling the reporters that the peace must be achieved without delay.

"There need to be simultaneous steps from both the Israelis and the Palestinians," Hanson said. "We cannot wait for violence to stop totally" for Washington to resume more active efforts.

Other members of the group, representing the Jewish and Muslim faith, echoed the calls of the Christian leaders, calling on the US to send an envoy to the Middle East in an effort to revive the roadmap.

"The roadmap is our best hope for peace. ... The majority of our constituents across the board, are in favor of this approach,” said Rabbi Paul Menitoff, executive vice president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. "The longer we wait, peace will come on the backs of more dead Israelis and Palestinians."

The interreligious group said it would continue to encourage grass-roots membership to support their lobbying for a “roadmap” envoy in the coming weeks.