God of peace, bearer of hope, we seek your help for the peoples of the Middle East. Quiet the clamour of war and guide us towards peace. Where there is hatred and division sow seeds of calm and openness. Where there is destruction help us to rebuild. Where children are crying bring an end to tears. Shelter your peoples and protect them. Guide them and keep them from harm. Show us how to break down the barriers of history and fear, and breathe whispers of hope. Amen.

PRAY FOR PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND

Pope Francis: 25 December 2017.

"We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians," . "Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders."

Peace in the Middle East

God of mercy and compassion,
of grace and reconciliation,
pour your power upon all your children in the Middle East:
Jews, Muslims and Christians,
Palestinians and Israelis.
Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope,
oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation,
that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces,
and peace and justice could be experienced by all.

Two Peoples, One Land

Two peoples, one land,
Three faiths, one root,
One earth, one mother,
One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny,
One broken heart, One God.
We pray to You: Grant us a vision of unity.
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of All the Worlds, Source of All Amazing Differences help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly toward each other, toward peace.

At the start of 2015, Bishop Declan Lang led a delegation of Catholic bishops to the Holy Land.

A key part of the pilgrimage was a visit to Gaza. This was Bishop Declan's second time in the strip of Palestinian land that borders Israel and hugs the Mediterranean.

The contrast between his first visit in January 2014 and this one a year later couldn't be more marked.

After a destructive 50-day conflict with Israel, much of Gaza City lies in ruins.

In this extended podcast, with sounds from Gaza, Bishop Declan is joined by our Middle East North Africa consultant, Dr Harry Hagopian, to talk about the visit and the stark realities facing Gazans.

We're left with the alarming question - How long before the next war?

The Rt Rev Declan Lang is Bishop of Clifton and Chair of the Bishops' Conference Department for International Affairs.

Podcast below.