CHRISTIAN LEADERS IN HOLY LAND URGE PEACE
ISTANBUL, 22 September 2001 (“Lraper” Church Bulletin) —
Hope is stronger than violence, and joy is greater than “suffering and
sadness” because of Jesus, says the Christmas message of the 3 patriarchs
and 10 heads of Churches in Jerusalem.
According to ecumenical news sources, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah
officially presented the message bearing the signatures of 13 Christian
leaders on Thursday, 20 December. The leaders included Greek Orthodox
Patriarch Irenaeus, Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Torkom, Syrian Orthodox
Archbishop Swerios, Holy Land Custodian Father Giovanni Battistelli,
Anglican Bishop Abu El Assal and Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan.
These leaders are stated that this year Christmas falls at a moment in which
“time and time again hope is raised” only to be dashed by daily events, with
actions that are “contrary to the will of God and the teaching of Our Lord
They urged political leaders to “start a new era of justice and peace” with
Palestinians and Israelis enjoying safety and tranquility “within recognized
Recently the Catholic bishops of the region met with John Paul II in Rome to
discuss the future of Christians in the Holy Land. At the end of Ramadan,
the Christian leaders visited Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.
In their message the church leaders encouraged Christians worldwide to pray
“for peace and justice” and call on the international community to have the
“courage” to take and implement the right decisions.
The message also urged local Christians not to emigrate and to find comfort
and joy in the faith: “stand firm in faith and rooted in your land with the
fullness of Christmas joy in your hearts. God gave us Jesus born in
Bethlehem’s stable. He taught us to see God’s will through what happens
about us.” Despite “all the suffering,” it said, “we want to celebrate this
Christmas with joy!”