Bishops pass ceasefire resolution, debate use of ‘genocide’

By Logan Crews
Posted Jun 25, 2024

[Episcopal News Service — Louisville, Kentucky] In their afternoon session on June 25, the House of Bishops heard Resolution D056, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor brought forward an amendment containing suggestions inspired by Pathways for Middle East Peace, a framework that guides inclusive approaches to prevent violent conflict. 

The first section, which originally described the acts of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people as an “ongoing genocide,” now decries Hamas’ “ongoing terrorist activity” since their attack on Oct. 7 and the “disproportionate loss of Palestinian lives that continues in Israel’s war against Hamas.” In the section that calls for a day of prayer, the resolution now asks for prayers that the “conflict not end in genocide.”

“As we all know from conversations that are swirling all over convention, the words that are important to people for a variety of reasons both substantive and emotional are ‘apartheid’ and ‘genocide,’” Taylor said. “One could have a worthy argument about whether genocide is now underway in Gaza. This resolution seeks only to pray that it not occur.”

Southeast Florida Bishop Peter Eaton proposed a further amendment to remove “genocide” completely, arguing the inclusion of the word takes away from the call for a ceasefire. 

Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates spoke in opposition to the removal of “genocide,” saying the house is not here to quibble about definitions but that they do have an obligation as Christian bishops to name what they see. Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Gaza, Gates said, is genocidal.

“A prophetic cry in past tense is an oxymoron,” Gates said. “If we cannot issue a moral cry in the present sense, I am not sure what we are for.”

The house voted to keep “genocide” in the resolution’s call to prayer and pass D056 with all of Taylor’s amendments. It goes to the floor of the House of Deputies next.