Anglican, Lutheran leaders criticize Canada’s response to Gaza war

Rescue workers search rubble after an Israeli attack in Rafah, Gaza, Oct. 24. Photo: Anas Mohammed/Shutterstock
Published November 23, 2023

In a Nov. 17 open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, heads of the Anglican Church of Canada and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) question the government of Canada’s commitment to safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians living in Gaza, expressing shock and disappointment with Canada’s recent voting record at the United Nations and failure, in their words, to directly condemn Israel’s attacks on United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools.

“Mr. Prime Minister, why is there no room in Canada’s contribution toward ending this conflict and responding fully to the needs for humanitarian aid to recognize both Hamas’ egregious actions and the decades of Israel’s illegal and violent military occupation of Palestinian Territories in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem?” reads the letter, signed by both Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the ELCIC.

The bishops thank Trudeau for a Nov. 16 response they received to their previous open letter, dated Oct. 18. They state their appreciation for Canada’s calls for Israel and Hamas to respect international law, to help ensure the passage of humanitarian aid and to protect civilians in both Israel and Palestine. But they also say the situation has continued to deteriorate, and once more urge the prime minister to call for a ceasefire.

They also express, “in the strongest terms,” their “shame and deep disappointment” in recent votes by Canada against United Nations General Assembly resolutions.

On Nov. 9, Canada was one of a small minority of nations who voted against resolutions supporting the UNRWA’s work in the area, asking the UN to protect Palestinian refugees’ property rights in Israel and condemning illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

In an email to the Anglican Journal, Nicholls said she was disappointed with Trudeau’s response to the churches’ previous letter.

“The response from the PM, received over a month after our October 18 letter, and many deaths and displaced persons later, was disappointing. It did not call for a ceasefire, given Canada’s stated commitment to the delivery of humanitarian aid. We wait for a response to our most recent letter,” the primate said.

On Nov. 23, negotiators in Qatar said an agreement had been reached for a four-day truce, beginning Nov. 24, that would see the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza and of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, and allow more aid to flow into Gaza. However, Hamas has said that throughout the truce its “fingers remain on the trigger,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed the war would resume as soon as the truce ended, and continue until Hamas is no longer a threat to Israel.


  • Sean Frankling

    Sean Frankling’s experience includes newspaper reporting as well as writing for video and podcast media. He’s been chasing stories since his first co-op for Toronto’s Gleaner Community Press at age 19. He studied journalism at Carleton University and has written for the Toronto Star, WatchMojo and other outlets.

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