In an interview, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, papal nuncio in Jerusalem and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, described to the Vatican agency Fides the atmosphere in the region on the eve of the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.
--Q: Archbishop Sambi, how can fasting help a world that has been involved in years of warfare?
--Archbishop Sambi: This initiative of Holy Father is providential. Fasting and prayers for peace serve to purify minds and hearts. Fasting purifies the sentiments and opens the heart to others.
This is particularly important for those engaged in a war. There is a danger that war may turn into a "job." But people who make war their profession, kill other people and they kill hope. For the Holy Land, this day of fasting is very important.
In the Holy Land, we need a fast from fighting. Here, day after day, we live with both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, all the tragedy of war. By fasting and praying we can reflect on how to build a better world, which will not be built with terrorism, hatred or revenge.
A better future can only be found on the path of respect for the rights and duties of both peoples and on the path of justice. War closes horizons, whereas reciprocal respect and justice opens them.
In the Holy Land, Orthodox Christians and Protestants have joined Catholics in responding with gratitude and willingness to the Pope´s call for a day of fasting and prayer for peace. The day before the day of fasting, the Pope will meet a group of bishops from the Holy Land.
The Pope has called a group of bishops of the different Catholic rites in Jerusalem for a meeting with him in Rome on Dec. 13. This is an eloquent sign of the loving concern with which the Pope follows the sad events in the Holy Land, and in the life of the Church, here, in this land, where the Church was born.
The Pope sees religions working for peace; the world sees religion as reasons for war.
With this initiative the Holy Father intends precisely to help all religions understand that an essential element of their mission is to be instruments of peace, never of war and destruction.