ASIA/HOLY LAND - Christmas Message of His Beatitude Patriarch Twal: tragedies and hopes of a difficult year

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The Holy City of Jerusalem "is under blood and tears" and religious antagonism jeopardizes its mission of "city of peace and inter-religious coexistence". The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, takes the opportunity of the traditional Christmas message to reconsider with eyes of faith the events that recently marked the lives of the peoples in Holy Land. An account in which pain and hope, despair and consolation intertwine, in a time marked by the visit of Pope Francis, the new Gaza war and the attacks against places of worship.
In his message, released by the media of the Patriarchate and sent to Agenzia Fides, the Patriarch describes "the pilgrimage of the Holy Father to the Holy Land successful on the pastoral and ecumenical level. His visit was followed by the beautiful prayer meeting in the Vatican gardens with President Abbas, former President Peres and Patriarch Bartolomew. Even though we did not obtain any concrete result from that meeting, however, every prayer is valid and the fruits may come much later, like the olive tree, planted on that occasion and which may produce fruits many years ahead". Then, the Head of the Church of the Latin rite of the Holy Land focuses on the violence and tragedies that have marked the last few months, from the devastating Gaza war ("a bloodshed") to the facts of violence or revenge against innocent people, like the killing of people who pray in a synagogue, and attacks against mosques. "In one week", recalls the Patriarch in his message, "the Christian leaders of the Holy Land visited Har Nof synagogue to condemn the inhuman act that took place there, and at the same time visited Al Aksa Mosque to ask for the old Statu Quo to be respected".
The patriarchal message calls into question the "responsibility of political leaders - Israelis and Palestinians - to find and facilitate a solution. Great too is the responsibility of the international community to help these two parties to help themselves". Regarding the jihadist violence that disrupts the entire Middle East, Patriarch Twal highlights the "clear condemnation" of radical religious ideologies, expressed by "Arab and Muslim leaders".
In his Christmas message, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem also focuses on the issue of family reunification - that prevents many couples to live together, when the spouse of a Palestinian does not have Israeli citizenship. "We hope," writes the Patriarch, "that the Israeli High court will keep the 300 hectares of Cremisan Valley, as well as the two Salesian monasteries on the Palestinian side. Today we are anxious because the last developments of the recent hearing are giving a different signal. We are afraid that the Court might decide that the land belonging to 58 Palestinian Christian families, might be separated from Beit Jala. Such a decision will harm our community and we hope that the judges be inspired by ethical principles and not to submit to political pressure". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 18/12/2014)