US church leaders urge President to restore vital funding to East Jerusalem hospitals
Lutheran, Catholic and Episcopal bishops defend invaluable medical care for the most vulnerable populations
(LWI) – Leaders of Lutheran, Catholic and Episcopal (Anglican) churches in the United States have jointly called on the US President to restore vital funding for four church-associated medical institutions in East Jerusalem. By halting this humanitarian assistance “lives are being threatened unnecessarily,” they say in a joint statement issued today.
The five church leaders, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry (The Episcopal Church), Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), Bishop William O. Gafkjen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) say restoring the vital financial support “is a morally correct thing to do” so that patients can “continue to receive the treatment and care they need.”
One of the affected institutions is Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), which is run by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). For decades, AVH, St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital and Princess Basma Rehabilitation Centre (Anglican /Episcopal), and St. Joseph’s Hospital (Catholic) had been assured of US humanitarian assistance. Recently, President Donald Trump’s administration decided to discontinue such support as part of a wider move to curtail funding towards Palestinians.
These hospitals provide life-saving and, in some cases, unique forms of health care not available otherwise to Palestinians.
“These hospitals provide life-saving and, in some cases, unique forms of health care not available otherwise to Palestinians,” the church leaders say. They refer to kidney dialysis for children, state-of-the-art cancer care and pioneering rehabilitation centers for autism treatment as some of the critical services for the most vulnerable populations in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
The decision to discontinue funding “leaves the patients, the wider Palestinian community, and us disappointed and perplexed,” the church leaders add.
Augusta Victoria Hospital is a center of medical excellence in East Jerusalem, serving all 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It offers specialized care not available in other hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, including radiation therapy for cancer patients and pediatric hemodialysis. Augusta Victoria Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission International for its outstanding quality.