Dialogika Resources

U.S. and Canadian Catholic Bishops' Statements on the Israel-Hamas War

[The following are listed chronologically.]


Most Rev. David J. Malloy, Bishop of Rockford, Chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace


October 8, 2023

WASHINGTON – In response to the continued tensions and violence that erupted into warfare between Gaza and Israel on October 7, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, calls for prayers for peace in the Holy Land:

“On October 7, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, the world watched the operation launched from Gaza and the rapid call to arms from Israel that ensued. Almost 50 years to the day of the launch of the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, once again war is spilling out in the Holy Land. With it brings the mounting casualties and hostilities unfolding on all sides, and increased threats to the Status Quo of the Holy Places among Jews, Muslims, and Christians further dimming any hope for peace.

“The world is once again shocked and horrified by the outbreak of ferocious violence in the Holy Land. Reports have surfaced indicating large numbers of wounded and dead, including many civilians. 

“I join with Pope Francis in his call for peace and his condemnation of this widespread outbreak of violence. As he stated in his Sunday audience, ‘May the attacks and weaponry cease. Please! And let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.’

“May all who love the Holy Land seek to bring about among all the parties engaged in the fighting a cessation of violence, respect for civilian populations and the release of hostages.

“As we pray urgently for peace, we recall especially all the families and individuals suffering from these events. We call on the faithful, and all people of good will to not grow weary and to continue to pray for peace in the land Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, called home.”


His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York 


October 8, 2023

Here in Rome, the city is safe, quiet, reverent this Sunday morning of the Christian sabbath.

From here in Rome, my heart goes out to the assaulted people of Israel, and to our Jewish community we cherish as friends and neighbors back home in New York, realizing with tears that their sabbath yesterday was anything but peaceful.

A secure and safe home, surely intended by God for all His Children, wherever they may be.  To have that home attacked is a sacrilege; to defend that home is righteous.

To the urgent appeals of Pope Francis this Sunday; to the pleas of my brother bishops back home in the United States; to the concerns and condolences of those brothers and sisters gathered here in Rome for the synod of bishops, I sure add my own.


Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit


October 8, 2023

It was with great sadness that I learned news of the violence in Israel. We have a number of citizens in southeast Michigan who have familial and cultural ties to Israel and Palestine; as Catholics, we stand in solidarity with them, praying for the safety of their loved ones. I encourage all people of good will to pray for a swift resolution to this conflict, and lasting peace for all.


Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, PA

[Excerpted from article on an interfaith service at the Scranton Jewish Community Center.]


October 9, 2023

“On behalf of the Catholic community of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania and well beyond, please know that we stand with the nation of Israel and the Jewish communities both locally and throughout the world. … We pray with, and for you, this night for God’s peace. I think it is fair to say that our hearts, like yours, are broken.”

Bishop Bambera said he grieves the loss of every life that has been taken so brutally and senselessly.

“We call upon the power and presence of God to heal the land of Israel and the lives of all who suffer this day,” the bishop continued.


Most Rev. J. Michael Miller, Archbishop of Vancouver  

[Excerpted from article on message sent to Vancouver’s Jewish community.]


October 9, 2023

In a message to Vancouver’s Jewish community, Bishop Miller “unequivocally condemned” Saturday’s attack on Israel, calling it an offence against moral and international law.

Commenting from Rome where he is attending the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, the Archbishop said Monday the news about “the Hamas incursion into Israel is devastating.”

The nature of the attack and the taking of women and children as hostages was “a serious violation not only of international law but, even more importantly, of the moral law that is written in the conscience of every human being,” he said.

“Such an attack must be unequivocally condemned, and our voices raised to the LORD that respect for human life, created in His image, will prevail among all people of good will. I join my prayers to those of the Jewish community who are mourning the deceased.”


Most Rev. Nelson J. Pérez, Archbishop of Philadelphia


October 10, 2023

Statement Regarding the Terrorist Attack on Israel and Armed Conflict in The Holy Land

This weekend, I watched with deep sorrow as Israel was attacked suddenly by Hamas and armed conflict intensified with great ferocity. Peace in the Holy Land, which is sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, has once again been violently shattered by terrorists.

Over the past few days, news reports have detailed unspeakable atrocities and great loss of life with little to no regard for the welfare of civilians. The seeds of war being sown, the harvest will be a bitter one of continued destruction and persecution.

At yet another grave moment in the recent history of our world, I urge all people of goodwill to answer the urgent plea of Pope Francis by calling for an immediate end to this conflict and in praying for all those trapped by the maelstrom of war. As the Holy Father said, “Terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.”

Many people in our region, notably the large Jewish community with whom we share close ties, have family and friends who are caught in this torrent of violence. We pray for them. We pray for those suffering. We pray for a swift and just end to this conflict.


His Eminence Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston


October 11, 2023.

The sad and tragic historical truth is that the people of the Middle East have long suffered the scars and burdens of war. Even in this historical perspective, the massive military assault by Hamas on the State of Israel and its citizens stands as one of the worst moments in this long history. This act of aggression requires a clear condemnation in human, moral and legal terms. Both the purpose of the attack and its barbaric methods are devoid of moral or legal justification. There is no room for moral ambiguity on this issue. Resisting such terrorism and aggression is the moral duty of states to be carried out within moral limits.

While such moral judgement is necessary at this time, my primary focus as a Catholic bishop is one of prayer, condolence and sympathy for those who have lost parents, spouses and children during this past week. These sentiments extend also to the Palestinian civilian community and families in this conflict, for death is never confined to one side in war.

The United States is home to the largest Jewish community outside of Israel and many members of that community live in the Archdiocese of Boston. To them I offer solidarity and support in the midst of your suffering and sorrow.

As is his custom in addressing war and conflict, Pope Francis has affirmed the right of states and people to defend themselves while observing moral limits, and also urging every effort possible to move from conflict to its just resolution. As a step in that process, I echo the Holy Father's request that the hostages be released. I join the Holy Father in his pastoral care for all in war and his prayer for a just peace.


Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington


October 11, 2023.

I ask the faithful in the Diocese of Arlington and all people of good will to join in prayer for peace following a terrorist attack in Israel. Our hearts are shocked and saddened by the death of hundreds of people, and thousands more who are wounded or dispersed already. It is my hope and prayer that the international community will work together to help ensure a peaceful and just resolution for the good of all. At this time, we also pray that the victims and their families find strength and support. May we join with one voice in asking God to grant eternal rest to the deceased, console those who grieve, and guide political leaders to bring an end to the war without further violence.


Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of Cleveland


October 12, 2023

My heart is heavy with sadness at the extreme violence, cruelty and barbarism that has been exhibited along the border of Gaza and Israel begun by the Hamas incursion last Saturday. I call on all our brothers and sisters to join me in praying that this conflict will soon be resolved so that all might experience the security and safety that every human being deserves.

May we pray without ceasing that those injured will be healed, those held hostage will be freed, and hearts hardened by hatred will be changed. As Pope Francis recently said, “Terrorism and extremism do not help reach a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians but fuel hatred, violence, revenge and cause suffering for both sides.”

May God bless all those who are suffering, protect the innocent, and work through each of us as instruments of peace to end the horrific hostilities in a land considered most holy by the children of Abraham.

I exhort our Catholic faithful to make use of the rosary to beseech our Holy Mother Mary for her powerful intercession for all of suffering humanity.


Most Rev. William T. McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops


October 12, 2023

Over these last few days, the world has witnessed a rapid escalation of armed conflict in the Holy Land, with reports of a growing number of wounded or dead, including innocent civilians.

As the Holy Land is immersed in this violence and bloodshed, we remember that Jesus, the Son of God, who lived and walked there as Love Incarnate, through His teaching by word and deed, calls us as brothers and sisters to be always united by the bond of charity.

I invite the Catholic faithful in Canada to join other people of good will, here and around the world, in imploring God to move the hearts of those leaders engaged in the present conflict in order to deescalate the acts of terrorism, cease violence and war, and resume constructive efforts that are aimed at establishing lasting peace and concord. As we pray for peace, let us remember all the families and individuals suffering because of this most recent outbreak of violence.

As Christians we are compelled by the teachings and example of Jesus to pray for peace throughout the world. In a fraternal spirit of solidarity with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim brothers and sisters, let us join together in recalling God’s desire for peace in the land that Jesus Christ called home.


His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark


October 13, 2024

“Let us join with our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land and throughout the world in fervent, heartfelt prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation. Let us work tirelessly to make peace with justice a reality in our hearts, our communities, and among all nations and peoples.”


Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of Cleveland


October 17, 2023

I join with Pope Francis in his concerns that the Israeli hostages be released and humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza be allowed. While Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism, innocent civilians in Gaza need to be aided.

As Pope Francis has said: "May humanitarian rights be respected, above all in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to guarantee humanitarian corridors to help the entire population.” We continue to pray that suffering be relieved and all of us work as instruments of peace.


Most Rev. Mark E. Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston


October 17, 2023

Catholic Just War Theory applied to Israeli-Hamas Conflict

The Catholic Church has a long history of reflecting on the justification, conditions and conduct of war. Let’s look at the conflict between Hamas and Israel in the light of traditional Catholic just war theory (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2309).

When a country is attacked, a defensive war is justified. War should only be undertaken because of lasting and grave harm. It should be the last resort, other means of ending conflict being impractical or ineffective. There must be serious prospects of success and the use of arms should not produce harm and disorder worse than the evil to be eliminated.

Considering Hamas, it is conducting an aggressive war, despite its claims to the contrary. The attacks launched earlier this month were not the last resort to address legitimate Palestinian grievances. While the Middle East is a cauldron of resentments and hatreds, gains such as the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the Oslo Agreements show that, with good will and international support, progress can be made.

The main obstacle to peace is Hamas’ hatred of Jews and its desire to destroy Israel. Instead of seeking to negotiate with Israeli authorities, Hamas has launched attacks that have caused  irreparable harm by killing many hundreds of Israelis with no real possibility of succeeding in destroying Israel. Hamas’ practice of hiding its fighters among non-combatants, including women and children, is cowardly and reprehensible. By attacking Israel and stirring it to a vigorous counterattack, Hamas has brought on worse evils that it seeks to eliminate.

On the Israeli side, it has a right to defend its people and to neutralize Hamas’ ability to strike again. The harm caused to its people is grave; families cannot replace those murdered by the terrorists. One can argue that recent Israeli governments should have been more open to dealing constructively with the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, but Hamas has shown that it is an unwilling partner for dialogue.

Israel will successfully defend its own territory from Hamas and will rebuild its defenses against future attacks. It is less clear that it can completely eliminate Hamas from Gaza. The danger for Israel is that a blockade on food, water, medicine and electricity and a full-scale ground war in Gaza will cause such loss of life that Israel will lose the international sympathy it now enjoys, even from its usual critics, and future prospects for peace will be severely undermined. Israel’s strategy should focus on swift action towards its stated goals followed by cooperation with the international community and humanitarian organizations who seek to help innocent Palestinians, particularly those injured and displaced.

Those of us who cherish Israel and want Jews to flourish in their historic homeland can and must pray to the God who is over us all, that peace based on justice may someday and somehow be achieved in the Holy Land.


Most Rev. Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany


October 19, 2023

“We deplore the ruthless terrorist attacks of October 7th and the grief and trauma that has brought to families and the Jewish world.

Our hearts go out to the bereaved families and families of the missing, friends and communities, all suffering from violence and the threat of violence in Israel. We turn to our Father in heaven, as Jesus taught, offering prayer, fasting and sacrifice as we prepare for our Eucharistic Revival this weekend. The way to peace is always through justice. There is no justice where mercy is absent. There is no mercy where the dignity and sacredness of every human life is not respected and protected. 

We pray for the release of hostages, the children especially, and the swift establishment of humanitarian corridors. May God free the hearts of all seeking to de-escalate the vicious cycle of violence of any impulse to rage or revenge in the face of the such inhumanity so that respect for the rights and dignity of all, Jew and Palestinian, may become a goal - the only goal - that will lead to peace.”


Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington


October 20, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you know, the war in Israel continues and the growing humanitarian crisis is deeply concerning. Consequently, our Holy Father has called for a day of fasting, penance and prayer for peace in the world on Friday, Oct. 27

In his announcement, Pope Francis stated, in part, “The number of victims is rising and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please, let everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian disaster. The possible widening of the conflict is disturbing, while so many war fronts are already open in the world. May weapons be silenced, and let us heed the cry for peace of the poor, the people, the children.”

I respectfully request that all Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington participate in this important effort. At times like these, it may seem that we have little ability to effect or inspire change. However, as people of faith, we know this is not true. Our Heavenly Father hears our pleas and has the power to transform even the most hardened of hearts and instill peace wherever there is strife.

Please join Pope Francis Oct. 27 for fasting, penance and prayers for peace. May Our Lord continue to bless you and your families, now and always.


Most Rev. Scott McCaig, Military Ordinariate of Canada 

https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/guest-columnists/item/36070-engaging-anti-semitism-rejects-christian-roots [The Bishop's statement is quoted in full in this article.] 

October 21, 2023

“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are not”  Jeremiah 31:15.

“The brutal slaughter, kidnapping and rape of at least 1,300 innocent Israeli Jews on Oct. 7, including the horrific slaughter of women and children, is an act of sheer terror perpetrated by Hamas. It is a grave and evil degradation of the humanity of our Jewish brothers and sisters.  It is therefore an offence against God that can not be equivocated or explained away.  Those who would seek to act as apologist for Hamas, and thereby justify these unspeakable crimes, consort with evil.  Regardless of one’s perspective on the political complexities and complicated history of the region, there can be absolutely no moral justification for acts of terror.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that ‘’Terrorism threatens, wounds and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity…We fervently pray for those innocent Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, who are trapped under the dominion of Hamas in Gaza.   We pray for their safety and deliverance so that they might pursue a just and peaceful coexistence with their Israeli neighbours, secure in the bonds of human fraternity and solidarity.

“As Christians, we believe that as the Church of the Gentiles we have been grafted on to the tree of Israel (Romans 11:17). As such, we stand with our Jewish friends, our elder brothers and sisters in faith, as they mourn and weep for those who have been lost to this brutality.  We earnestly pray for the entire Jewish community in Israel and here in Canada that they may be encircled by those committed to truth, justice and mercy and to an abiding love of the Jewish people, the first to know God.”


Most Rev. David J. Malloy, Bishop of Rockford, Chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace


October 27, 2023

WASHINGTON – In response to the escalating Israel-Hamas war, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, renewed his call for peace.

“The war in the Holy Land is playing out in real time before us with its mounting casualties, the growing humanitarian disaster, and the potential for violent regional and international escalation. The October 7 terrorist attacks of Hamas which initiated this war must be condemned. We renew the call for the release of hostages and protection of civilian populations. At the same time, we affirm continued efforts to allow humanitarian access, including corridors for those seeking safety, and urge Congress to provide support for relief efforts. As Pope Francis reminds the world, ‘War is always a defeat; it is a destruction of human fraternity.’

“We continue to pray for the victims caught in this cycle of violence as well as the regional and international actors who are being drawn into the conflict. We must not grow weary of offering our prayers and support for peace and justice for all concerned. A lasting solution respecting the rights, needs, and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians remains essential to these ends.

 “With passions enflamed in our own communities, online, and around the world, we must guard against any tendency to sow hatred against other people or faiths. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, ‘The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion.’

“As Christians, we look to Our Lord and unite our prayers to those of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who in his recent letter to his flock, recalls the words of Christ, ‘In the world you will have tribulations, but take courage, I have conquered the world.’ (John 16:33)”


His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty 


November 1, 2024

WASHINGTON - Since the Hamas attacks earlier this month, and in the wake of boldly proclaimed rhetoric and the increase of actions of religious hatred in the United States, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty issued a sharp rebuke and called for peace.

“In recent days here in America, where for hundreds of years many have sought refuge from religious persecution, we have seen outbreaks of religious hatred that shock the conscience. It is especially disheartening to learn that the man accused of killing a six-year-old Muslim boy in Chicago reportedly identifies as Catholic. Nothing could be more antithetical to our Church’s teachings than this man’s alleged crime. And as countless voices celebrate the brutal terrorist attacks of October 7, our Jewish brothers and sisters reasonably fear for their lives.

“In the face of such base hatred, we must affirm certain fundamental truths. Every human life is of equally incalculable worth. Hating your neighbors is a grave sin against God, who created us all in his image and likeness. Violence only begets more violence, not justice.

“May those whose hearts have been gripped by hatred repent, and may people of goodwill stand courageously for peace.”


His Eminence Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago


November 11, 2023

[Remarks delivered at Anshe Emet Synaogogue] 

Warm greetings to you as you gather for Shabbat services this morning.  Thank you to Rabbi Michael Siegel, Executive Director Mimi Weisberg, and the staff of Anshe Emet for such a gracious welcome.

It may be a bit of an understatement to say that it is unusual to have a Catholic bishop speaking as part of your weekly shabbat service.  Then again, these are not normal times. 

As I needed to be in Rome for the Synod for most of October,  it grieved me to be away from Chicago during these exceedingly difficult days for your community, with whom I feel so close.  I am so grateful to be with you today to personally assure you of my ongoing support for the members of this synagogue and the entire Jewish community of Greater Chicago.

The brutal attack of Hamas militants which desecrated and took the lives of more than 1000 Israelis, along with the kidnapping of 250 hostages on October 7 has, as you know too well, left Jews in Israel, Chicago, and throughout the world in a deep state of shock and mourning. Through personal conversations, I have learned the depth of the Jewish community’s trauma and I extend my deep condolences to all of you. While some in our area view this as an event occurring half a world away, I know, as much as I can, how deeply personal this attack was for you.

I had the sacred privilege of accompanying my friend, the late Fritzie Fritzshall, who served so well as president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, in bearing witness to the Holocaust in a pilgrimage of memory to Auschwitz a few years ago. I could not take away her pain, but I could accompany her, as I hope to do with you today and in the coming days.

On that visit, I learned from her testimony and courageous witness that we must tell the story of the Holocaust so that it never is repeated. There is deep pain and trauma that goes with this retelling, but we know what happens when antisemitism is unopposed publicly. When allowed to run rampant, antisemitism infects our communities and nations with fear and hatred. Hatred of Jews must never be allowed to be normalized.

Since the attack of October 7, countries around the world have reported a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents. According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic hate crimes in the United States have increased by nearly 400%, year over year.  Some college campuses, places long considered bastions of dialogue and learning, have even seen notable increases in antisemitic rhetoric and hate-speech.  Many Jewish college students and faculty are thinking of leaving campus or hiding obvious signs that they are Jewish. We must be concerned when a generation of Jews is being formed amid a deep fear of even acknowledging their identity in public. Catholics and all people of good will cannot be simply quietly concerned by this reality. No, we must speak against such bigotry and hate. 

As a Catholic Christian, it is my duty to denounce antisemitism.  As Pope Francis reminds us, one cannot be a good Catholic and an antisemite.  Catholics must respond to antisemitism swiftly and decisively, especially in the aftermath of the deadliest day in Jewish history since the end of the Shoah.  I exhort my Catholic brothers and sisters and all people of good will to speak out against antisemitic acts and speech when confronted with them. It is quite literally a matter of life and death. 

I join Pope Francis in affirming the fundamental right of Jews to a Jewish State in their historical homeland. The national aspirations of the Palestinian people are also legitimate and to be pursued.  Yet I also cannot turn away from the profound human suffering of civilians, especially the children, even newborns,  both in Israel and Gaza.  These casualties are not just numbers flashed across the screen on nightly television. These casualties include friends, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, fellow humans beloved and given life through the gift of the one God.  At Pope Francis’ urging, Catholics continue to pray and fast for a cessation of violence in Gaza and Israel, and other parts of our war-torn world. I also share the Holy Father’s call that we all must be on the side of peace.

Likewise this week, he visited with the European Rabbis and stated: “The spread of antisemitic demonstrations, which I strongly condemn, is also of great concern.”  He continued: “In this time in which we are witnessing violence and destruction, we believers are called to build fraternity and open paths of reconciliation for all and before all, in the name of the Almighty who, as [the] prophet [Jeremiah] says, has ‘plans for welfare and not for evil’ (Jer 29:11). Not weapons, not terrorism, not war, but compassion, justice and dialogue are the fitting means for building peace.”

It is hard to conceive of peace in such dark times. Yet peace is God’s promise to his family.  We are all children of God. We will never see peace without an authentic dialogue premised on the inherent dignity of all human beings. Until such recognition takes place, the cycle of violence will continue. I fervently pray for this mutual recognition, grounded in the image of God emblazoned by the divine on all our sisters and brothers.

Supporting that prayer, may we commit to doing our part here in Chicago to encounter one another as brothers and sisters, made in God’s image. Through this encounter, we can begin to see new possibilities for upholding our shared dignity and thereby reduce the fear that fuels the fires of antisemitism, islamophobia, and all other forms of religiously-based hate. Through this encounter, we can begin to break down the barriers that separate us from one another due to political affiliation, skin color, and religious affiliation. Through this encounter, we can assist in bringing about a new way of relating in a world desperately in need of healing.

I again thank you for your hospitality this morning and for the invitation to address you during your sacred time at prayer. Know that I am with you.

I understand that you celebrated today the Bat Mitzvah of a young lady named Stella. Congratulations Stella. I am here for you and all of young people your age, to let you know that none of you should ever be afraid or ashamed to be Jewish. You can count on me to stand with you.

May the good and gracious God who has called you here this morning bring you comfort in your sorrow and solace in your time of pain. Peace be with you all.


Most Rev. Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford; Most Rev. Michael R. Cote, Archbishop of Norwich; Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport; and Most Rev. P. Paul Chomnycky, Eparch of Stamford


December 12, 2023

Statement on Ending Antisemitism

In recent weeks we have seen a disturbing and unacceptable emergence of antisemitism unleashed in many courners of our state and coutnry. These demonstrations, speeches, and acts of intimidation against the Jewish people are profoundly evil and unacceptable. 

While there should be civil discourse on issues concerning events at home and abroad, no allowances should be made to those who have taken to the streets, who intimidate others, in the classroom, through social media, or in anonymous attacks against the Jewish people. 

Catholics have endured bigotry, cross burnings, denial of opportunities, and intimidation. We know too well how the unthhinkable can become acceptable if we are silent. Sadly, this reality is too often true, as many of our Jewish brothers and sisters now live in fear to attend school, to speak freely in the public square, or face ostracism in their work or daily affairs. 

We urge Catholics to pray for Jews everywhere, stand with them against those who wish them harm in words or deeds, and call upon our elected leaders to speak and act forcefully to stop this practice in our midst. 

We invite everyone to stand with Jews throughout our country and world, reject any destructive element in our midst, and seek a virtuous life where no one should feel threatened at any level for their religious beliefs. We urge political leaders to find solutions in the Middle East that satisfy the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians in that tormented part of our world. 

Any form of discrimination, bigotry, racial animus against any person or group cannon tolerated. 


Most Rev. Michael Sis, Bishop of San Angelo


December 13, 2023

[Excerpted from article on an interfaith Hanukkah celebration.]

NEW YORK – With antisemitism on the rise across the United States, Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo, Texas, took a public stance of solidarity with the Jewish community Dec. 13, participating in and speaking at an interfaith Hanukkah celebration he himself helped organize.

In remarks, Sis said he hopes the Catholic presence at the celebration “expresses respect, friendship, and a desire for mutual understanding.” He also emphasized the importance of Hanukkah for all faiths, considering the story is one of religious freedom.

“This evening, this Hanukkah celebration here in San Angelo is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate an important tradition in the lives of our Jewish brothers and sisters, and it is also a chance to reflect on the fact that the story of Hanukkah is actually important for all faiths,” Sis remarked.

“We can all find inspiration in it, because it is a celebration of religious liberty – the right to practice one’s religion according to the dictates of one’s own conscience,” Sis continued. “That’s what was at stake for the Maccabees in Israel 164 years before Christ. That’s what is at stake today around the globe, in North Korea, China, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and a host of other places.”

Sis went on to list of number of hopes he has for the future, including that people around the world can freely express their faith regardless of their religion, and “that all of us, from so many different religions, may be able to exist, in mutual respect, side by side, in peace and justice.”

The interfaith Hanukkah celebration, held Dec. 13, was the first of its kind in San Angelo in which Sis has participated. He told Crux that the idea actually came from a Catholic woman in San Angelo, who suggested the diocese hold some sort of public event in solidarity with the Jewish people. ...

Sis quoted a Nov. 28 2022 statement from the U.S. Bishops conference, where it stated that “in unequivocal terms, we condemn any and all violence directed at the Jewish people, whether motivated by religious, racial, or political grievances.” ...

Sis later told Crux that interfaith collaboration “is essential for building a more just and peaceful society.”

“It allows us to acknowledge our differences yet collaborate on what we have in common,” Sis said. “It provides us with better channels of communication to confront problems before they get out of hand, and it leads to more creative and effective solutions to problems in our community through the synergy and good will that is created through these encounters.”

- by John Lavenburg


Most Rev. Robert Barron, Bishop of Winona-Rochester


December 21, 2023

A few weeks ago, at the commencement of Hanukkah, my Word on Fire team published on our social media platforms a graphic of a Menorah accompanied by a text from St. John Paul II celebrating the spiritual bond that connects Catholics and Jews. Harmless enough, right? Wrong apparently. For this simple image and quote were met with a firestorm of angry protests from, it appears, even some Catholics who gave vent to frankly shocking expressions of anti-Semitism. Mind you, I’ve been on social media for over twenty years, and I’m well acquainted with how vile that space can be, but this outpouring of rage staggered even this grizzled veteran. Let me give you just a sample: “Did they fill your pockets with shekels to say this?” “Judaism is the anti-Christ religion.” “Semites literally steal everything . . . literally worthless thieves.” “Sin-o-gogue of Satan anyone?” “Well, there is the deicide thing.” “If by brother you mean Cain.”

Look, I know there are lots of crazy people on the Internet, but, once again, the sheer volume and intensity of these responses—and I’m giving you only a hint of the hundreds of similar remarks—signals that we have a serious problem on our hands. For Christianity collapses in on itself without constant reference to its Jewish antecedents. As St. Paul put it, Christ is “the yes to all the promises made to Israel.” And as Pope Pius XI declared, “We are all spiritually Semites.” Hence, if you don’t get the Jews, you won’t get Jesus. It’s as simple and important as that. 

One of the very earliest doctrinal disputes within Christianity was the battle against Marcion and his disciples in the second century. A clever and articulate theologian, Marcion argued that the Old Testament presented a crude and morally compromised god who had nothing to do with the true God revealed by Jesus. Accordingly, he recommended that the entire Old Testament be struck from the collection of sacred texts and even large swaths of the New Testament that he considered insufficiently clean of contagion. 

Though it was fiercely opposed from the beginning, most notably by the great St. Irenaeus, Marcionism has proved to be a very enduring heresy. In the early nineteenth century, it reasserted itself in the writings of Friedrich Schleiermacher, the founder of modern liberal Protestantism, who openly extolled Marcion and presented an understanding of Jesus that was entirely non-Jewish.  Schleiermacher’s banner was picked up in the early twentieth century by the deeply influential theologian Adolf von Harnack, who not only wrote a biography of Marcion but also, in imitation of his intellectual hero, recommended that the entire Old Testament be struck from the canon!  Harnack had numerous disciples among the most prominent theologians and biblical scholars in the twentieth century, many of whom presented Jesus in radically de-Judaized form, as either a Hellenistic sage or a teacher of timeless spiritual truths. One can hear echoes of Marcionism, by the way, whenever someone says, “You know, I love the gentle and compassionate God of the New Testament, not the violent and blustering God of the Old Testament.”

And such a Jesus, truth be told, is as dull as dishwater and completely uncompelling evangelically. It is of crucial significance that, in the story of the Road to Emmaus, when Jesus speaks in earnest to the two disciples, he doesn’t trade in Gnostic nostrums; rather, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” In a word, he presents himself as the fulfillment of salvation history, the culminating point of the story of the Jews, the full expression of Torah, temple, and prophecy. And it was in the course of that speech that the hearts of the disciples commenced to burn within them. It was that deeply Jewish speech that led them to conversion. 

Now happily, in recent decades, a new generation of biblical scholars have emerged who have endeavored to recover the Jewishness of Jesus. One thinks of, among many others, E.P. Sanders, Richard Bauckham, James D.G. Dunn, N.T. Wright, Joseph Ratzinger, Brant Pitre, and Richard Hays.  Their instincts are in line with the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, which insisted upon the positive relationship between Judaism and Catholicism and with the consistent teaching of St. John Paul II, the first pope to visit the Roman synagogue.

When William F. Buckley was endeavoring to launch his journal National Review in the 1950s, he was eager to recruit the best and brightest among the conservative thinkers in the Anglosphere. But he was scrupulous in eliminating from consideration any who exhibited anti-Semitic attitudes, for he knew that they would undermine his project, both morally and intellectually. If the comments on my social media regarding a simple statement of amity between Catholics and Jews is any indicator, we have come, in the Church, to a similar crisis. In the great work of evangelization, I want all the help I can get. I want the most convicted and intelligent Catholics. Period. But I cannot have anti-Semites, because they are, by definition, enemies of Christ. 

And as Christmas approaches, may we rejoice in the God who deigned to become a little Jewish baby. 


Most Rev. Mark E. Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston


Israel-Hamas War: a Second Look: International Cooperation Needed for Peace in the Middle East

January 2, 2024

Early in the Israel-Hamas War (October 17, 2023) I analyzed the conflict according to the traditional norms of the Catholic just war theory: 1.) a defensive war in response to armed aggression 2.) undertaken as the last resort 3.) with a reasonable prospect of success 4.) and likely not to cause worse evils than the one it wants to eliminate (this last criterion sometimes referred to as proportionality). I claim no infallibility for my analysis but it seemed clear to me that Israel was justified in attacking Hamas in Gaza in response to the brutal rape, murder and dismemberment of many hundreds of Israeli citizens.

As we begin the new year, I am still convinced that Israel has the right to so weaken Hamas that it can no longer pose a threat to the safety of the Israeli people. But, as I said in October, Israel’s conduct of the war, including, to date, a fierce ground offensive, continued missile strikes and a sharp limitation on humanitarian aid to Gazan civilians, could backfire and cause worse evils than the one it sought to remove.

Sadly, it appears that this is happening. The toll in Gaza, mostly of non-combatants and including many women and children as confirmed by independent witnesses, is staggering: more than twenty thousand dead and thousands more injured. Some humanitarian aid is allowed but far less than people need to eat and drink and hospitals need to treat the injured. Israel is losing support from its usual allies – even the United States is pressuring Israel to tone down its military offensive – and the prospects for a peaceful relationship with Palestinians and other Arabs is fading fast as hatred of Jews and resentment at Israel’s conduct of the war builds among the neighboring peoples. Antisemitism is also rising in the United States and elsewhere.

How can Israeli forces crush Hamas while avoiding massive harm to civilians? It begins to look impossible. Since, as of this writing, Hamas is still sending missiles into Israel and is continuing to attack Israeli soldiers within Gaza, Hamas has not yet been defeated militarily. With its strategy of mingling with civilians, hiding in tunnels and holding hostages as a bargaining chip, Hamas may be able to fight for a long time. Israel, on the other hand, by forcing more and more Gazans into smaller and smaller spaces, only increases the likelihood of greater civilian casualties. (The charge of genocide is false. If killing Palestinians were Isael’s aim, it could start with the more than one million living within Israel. The dead and injured Gazan civilians are the massive “collateral damage” of Israel’s vigorous pursuit of Hamas terrorists.)

The Israeli government is under increasing pressure from within Israel to make deals for the release of Israeli hostages but shows no sign yet of budging. I have seen no indication that Gazan civilians are demanding that Hamas stop fighting – there would likely be repercussions if they did. Egypt, which refuses to open its borders to fleeing Gazans, has offered a peace plan but so far the two hostile parties have not accepted it. Who will govern Gaza and who will pay for it to be rebuilt? There are international actors, especially Iran and its allies, who seek to use the conflict to further their own interests.

Israel’s initial response to Hamas’ October 7 attack was just; its current conduct of the war is causing greater evils than the one it seeks to eliminate. It should allow far more humanitarian aid into Gaza under strict controls and agree to stop fighting if the United Nations will send in a peace-keeping force to prevent Hamas from attacking Israel again. An international conference should also be convened to work out a solution of the whole Palestinian situation, the security of Israel and a just peace in the Middle East. May God enlighten and strengthen local and international leaders and their peoples to discover the path forward.


His Eminence Robert Cardinal McElroy, Bishop of San Diego and Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe


January 17, 2024

“The continuing war in Gaza that has killed tens of thousands of men, women, and children, and threatens to increase violence throughout the Middle East calls us as Americans to press for a national policy which is focused unswervingly on an immediate and total ceasefire.

“The massacre of more than thirteen hundred innocent Israelis, including children, and the abhorrent victimization of women on October 7th stands as a shocking attack by Hamas upon the most basic principles of human dignity. It absolutely delegitimates any future role for Hamas in the Middle East and underscores the right of Israel to bring to justice all those who carried out this outrage. Moreover, the piercing moral claim of releasing the hostages should be a priority for the whole international community.

“The siege of Gaza has lasted more than one hundred days and has already resulted in the deaths of more than 23,000 people, most of them innocent civilians. This is more than one percent of the entire population of Gaza. Proportionately for the United States, this would represent more than 3.5 million lives. In addition, the infrastructure, housing and commerce of Gaza has been systematically destroyed by Israeli attacks, rendering much of the population homeless. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Gaza before the eyes of the world. In such a conflict, continuing such warfare is neither just nor tolerable.

“In addition, there is tremendous risk that the present war will produce major conflict in Lebanon, increase violence in the West Bank, and cause outbreaks throughout the Middle East.

“It is for these reasons that Pope Francis has called repeatedly in these days for an end to military action in the Holy Land. ‘I continue to follow the conflict in Israel and Palestine with much worry and pain…. I renew my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire: there is so much suffering there.’ Only such a cease fire can end the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, stop the growing risk of expanded warfare in the Middle East and maximize the chance of returning the hostages to their families alive. 

“It is critical for us in the United States to support this call for an immediate ceasefire, and to press for our government to make it the centerpiece of its foreign policy in the Middle East at this pivotal moment. Our country has a powerful voice on these issues. Let it echo Pope Francis’s call amidst suffering on all sides ‘No to weapons, yes to peace.’ For this will be the only true pathway for justice in the land that so deeply reflects the presence of God.”