"In different parts of Africa, in Iraq and Syria and now in Gaza we are faced with stark and horrifying evidence of the moral bankruptcy of modern warfare", say the Bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland in a statement issued at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC).
"War that has become interminable - or self-perpetuating, as in Gaza - solves nothing; it never reconciles but only succeeds in entrenching hatred and division", write the Bishops that invite to eradicate "the structural forms of violence" (illegal settlements, the separation wall, the checkpoints, and lack of security that affects both sides) -"there is little hope for any lasting peace".
Bishops define the expulsion and the "martyrdom" of the Iraqi Christian community, heir to a tradition that dates back almost 2,000 years, "absolutely revolting".
"The total destruction of ancient dioceses, parishes full of fervor and families because of their attachment to faith is a crime against humanity", reads the document which adds that "we carry in our hearts even other religious traditions of Iraq that suffer the same fate as the Christian community".
"We admire many of the great religious teachings of Islam, in particular the focus on the poor and needy. We invite the faithful Muslims who believe in our common humanity to put pressure on the extremists so that they stop oppressing religious communities and instead seek the peace that Islam is committed to promoting", the message concludes.