Fr: what is the vocation of the Church in the Holy Land?
A – Church is deep rooted on both sides. There is the Arab-speaking
ancient Church which should live in solidarity with the Palestinian
people in its difficult moments, in its fight for independence, for
recognition: this Arabic-speaking segment of the Church should stay in
deep solidarity with the Palestinian people, but always saying the
truth, upholding the Christian position as regards violence and anything
that is unlawful in the fight for rights, for equity. On the other
hand, there is a much smaller, weaker Church, living within the Hebrew
society, speaking and praying in Hebrew: ¨this segment of the Church
too, in solidarity with the Israeli people, should say truth. Truth is
in any case always the same, it is not ambivalent. Truth is the truth of
the situation, of suffering, of oppression, of discrimination, of
occupation, of terrorism, of unlawful use of force. Here too, this other
segment of the Church, in deep solidarity with the Jewish people in
this very promising period where relations between Church and the Jewish
people are outstanding, the best ever since 2000 years, should talk
about the situation using the same Christian language. The purpose is to
raise a new reality, in mutual respect, since we are all followers of
the same Church. I believe that there is here a small seed which can
change the situation, provided we have patience and faith, as we always
tend to ask: “What’s going on in the Holy Land? What can we do?” First
thing to do is to pray, knowing that everything leads to the general
good, for God is the one who guides History. For the moment, this is the
vocation of the Church: using the word to change what is going on men’s
minds. Here, with a strong voice, calling for justice and peace for
everybody, lie the Church values. We are looking for those who, both
within the Palestinian and Israeli communities, seek justice and peace,
in order to work together, to shuffle our society.
Fr: what were the reactions of Pope Francis visit to the Holy Land? What are its fruits?
A – I believe there’s something very important:
Pope showed evidence how religion can promote justice and peace. Here,
religion is manipulated by our political, ideological leaders to show
that God being to my side God fights against the other party. The Pope
has shown very clearly what the Church believes in and promotes: God is
Truth and God loves each one of us. Pope went to meet the two sides and
has achieved symbolically strong gestures to ask: Where is God in the
midst of this entire situation? It is there where we seek forgiveness
that we ought to look for reconciliation. That was the force of the
Pope’s message during and after his visit: Where is God? We should thus
find ourselves, certain that we are all God-loved children, and that God
does not hold preference for a son over another one. Maybe he used
others to proclaim his love to us. We are all children of God and when
we start praying we should realize that we cannot expect of God to say
what pleases to us: “God is to my side in the fight against my foe.” But
in praying we know that the one whom I consider a foe is my brother.
The word “brother” has repeatedly been brought up during the Pope’s
speeches in the Holy Land. Talking to Bartholomew, he called him “my
dear and well-beloved brother” there was no division but a brotherhood.
With even Moslems, Jews, Palestinian and Israeli leaders alike, this
term is one that can change our mode of thinking. Thus the Pope has
reinforced the Church in its mission to announce with a strong voice
what is our vocation.
Fr: how does the church see at this moment the future of
Jerusalem, does she see Jerusalem rivaled between Israelis and
Talking about Jerusalem, the Church has for many years talked about a
city “off conflict”, meaning an international city. Maybe that’s the
best solution for the moment. But over the last years, the Church has
also taken into consideration the fact that perhaps there could be an
agreement. In the early 90s we had thought that the moment had probably
come. In the present situation, Church insists on the fact that
Jerusalem is an international city and at the same time a city where
every individual, rights and faithful of each religion should be
respected. I believe that on this point the Church, instead of stopping at a
rigid view of the situation, would like above all that Jerusalem lives
its own vocation. We still remember the eloquent speeches and the
document of John Paul II on Jerusalem and its vocation: we cannot forget
that Jerusalem is important for Jews, Christians and Moslems. God has
wanted it that way: this did not occur without the will of God.
Therefore Jerusalem should remain the city that delivers this message:
all my children, all should be able to find in Jerusalem their spiritual
and religious home.
Source: Radio Vatican
We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.