ASIA/HOLY LAND - Hell in Holy Land

Wednesday, 15 November 2023

by Jacques Mourad*
Gaza (Agenzia Fides) - If you want to see hell, you have to come to Lebanon, Syria and today especially the Holy Land. The evil spirit, at this time, is pushing the world into hell. He wants to turn the world into hell. And we really live in hell. We witness the atrocious death of thousands of innocent people in a few days, the bombing of places of care and suffering; these places which should be the last garrisons of humanity and we see hostages violently taken from their homes, humanitarian organizations struck in their action to relieve bodies and souls bruised by war and international institutions which can only show their helplessness, because no decision really seems to be in their hands. Even in Syria, when I travel around my diocese, every day I see elderly people and children, men and women looking for something to eat in the garbage. When the cold weather begins, none of them will have the means and resources to heat their homes. This is the world of hell. If our land is becoming hell, it is because insatiable powers are pursuing insatiable interests there. Pope Francis said it in a calm and at the same time determined way, when he repeated that both peoples have the right to have a State. It is not humane for Palestinians to kill Israelis in kibbutzim. And it is not humane for Israelis to bomb churches and hospitals. We were shocked and distressed to see bombs dropped on hospitals in Homs and Aleppo. Today, this is happening again in Gaza. Justifying the bombing and shelling of Gaza as a means to eradicate evil is also part of the hell that invades the space of our lands. Because evil cannot be eradicated by evil. He who wants to eliminate the evil that destroys bodies and souls must first eliminate the evil of hearts. Only a pure heart can purify other hearts. And the purification of hearts always comes after justice. Not before justice. Not against justice. Not by force. Palestinians have the right to live in freedom in their own land. This land is also theirs. Since 1948, they have lived as refugees in camps scattered across the Middle East, and today, the same is true for millions of Syrians. Palestinians have suffered for decades, with pain passed down from generation to generation, with no response and no one listening. Pope Francis, recalling the need for two states for two peoples, suggests the key to trying to resolve all the open problems and conflicts in the Middle East, not just the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Palestinians have suffered for decades, without answers and without being able to make themselves heard. They are victims of violence that comes from different sides. Not only from the Israeli army, but also from other countries, including Arab countries. Those who pursue the project of reconstituting ancient kingdoms in the historical space between the Euphrates and the Nile, those who say that other peoples must be swept away in the land that goes from the river to the sea, aim to exclude forever from the horizon of the future and of history the possibility of a State of Palestine and the very idea of seeing two peoples living together in two States. If the world tolerates and justifies this, it confirms injustice and takes away hope. The question that arises today is the following: do the powers of the world want to continue on this path? The answer to this question concerns the future of this earth and the entire Earth. The answer concerns not only today's wars, but the possible dispersal of the seeds of wars that will explode in ten, twenty or fifty years. We are not only responsible for what is happening today in war zones: we will be asked to account for the entire future of the earth, with all the consequences of war, in terms of migratory flows, creation of new refugee camps and depletion of vital resources such as water. This is also why I am impressed by Pope Francis' trip to Dubai to participate in COP 28: this also shows the Church's concern for the climate and environmental emergency. And for everything that concerns the life and good of people and the world. (Agenzia Fides, 15/11/2023)

*Archbishop of Homs. Hama and Nabek