Archbishop of York fasts for peace in Iraq

[Sep 1, 2014] The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu today ended his eight-day long fast and prayer for peace. He issued this statement immediately following the close of the Vigil with Bishop Mouneer Anis, the Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and President Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The Archbishop of York said, “It has been a real privilege for me to hold a vigil of ‘Hope and Trust for Peace and Justice in God’s World’, in the Chapel of St John, York Minster. A big thank you to everyone and especially the excellent staff at York Minster. Thank you.

Fasting and praying since Sunday 24th August to today, Sunday 31st August, has been a real blessing to me as have many people who attended and participated in prayer. People came from across our Global Village. I was strengthened in my prayers by the presence of Bishop Mouneer Anis, the President Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East who has been staying with me and he decided to join the prayers for peace in a world filled with mistrust, anger, hatred, the loathing of the other who is different from us and the misplaced trust in militarism.

Prayers were said on the hour every hour. The prayers used were the Kyrie Eleison (Lord Have Mercy), followed by The Lord’s Prayer. Bishop Mouneer Anis said the same prayers in Arabic.

I was moved and concerned by what has been happening in our world in the last past weeks: the fighting, the shedding of blood, summary executions, displacement of people and the destruction of villages and towns by the insidious, brutal and vicious violence that seemed to be marching on like a Doomsday Machine. Destroying anything in its wake; and we, the citizens of the world made to feel helpless to stop it – as it killed, maimed and devoured our brothers and sisters in our Global Village. I, therefore, beseeched all disciples of Jesus Christ in our Global Village, in the Name of our Lord, to join me in heart and mind for eight days of prayer and fasting for peace and justice in God’s World.

Prayers were said especially for the peoples of Afghanistan, Chad, The Central African Republic, Egypt, Gaza, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, The West Bank.

Bishop Mouneer and I were so encouraged when we heard of the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, and the role played by Egypt to reach this agreement; and to learn of the release of Peter Theo Curtis, another American journalist. And our hope is that no other drop of blood should be shed. Enough is enough. As Jim Wallis said, “Hope means believing in spite of the evidence and watching the evidence change”.

Bishop Mouneer and I are glad that so many people are committed to continue praying and working for world peace and reconciliation. May God stir up all of us to be instruments of peace and justice and to commit ourselves to be peace-makers.

Bishop Mouneer and I are disciples of Jesus Christ and we are fallible human beings. But we know that in our Global Village everyone is our brother, our sister. We found looking afresh at the story of Abraham a challenge for us both. For when God’s summons came to Abraham, he left his homeland and set out not knowing where he was going. He looked forward to the city that has foundations whose architect and builder is God.

We all need such a faith that is ready for adventure, patient and forever looking beyond this world as we work for the well-being and good of all. And this was the challenge to us to go and be likewise. That is: be a blessing to everyone.

Dear Near-Neighbours, surely the time has come for all the children of the Abrahamic faith to work for justice, peace and reconciliation for all. We must be the change we want to see. God be with you”.

+Sentamu Eboracensis, The Archbishop of York and +Mouneer Egypt, Bishop of Egypt

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