Holy Land Prelate Urges Focus on Lives, Not Politics

Sees Not What Can't Be Done, But What Can Be

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JERUSALEM, JAN. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem acknowledges that a group of Church leaders cannot change the political situation of the Middle East. But, he says, faced with this "frustrating situation," they can invest time, energy and resources in "making a difference to the life of our people."

Archbishop Fouad Twal said this in his address to open the annual meeting of the Holy Land Coordination.

The coordination group, including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops' conference of England and Wales.

In his address, Archbishop Twal reflected on the synod of bishops on the Middle East, held last October at the Vatican. He spoke of the Holy Land as "a place where the Christian memory of sacred history is most dense, and where those baptized in the Name of Jesus, of whatever denomination, come to recover the historical memory of their faith and renew their commitment to God in his Son. And it is for all of these reasons, that the presence of the Church here is, as Pope Benedict XVI said during his visit in 2009, 'precious in God's eyes' and that he wished to assure the local church here, 'of the solidarity, love and support of the whole Church and of the Holy See.'"

"Your presence is the living proof of the seriousness of the Pope's words," the patriarch said, "made evident to me and to all of the local Christians you will meet in these days, as well as to the many others, who will benefit from the solidarity that you have come here to express."

The archbishop said that local Christians need to see concrete steps, and he noted that they are stuck between two extremist groups: "The Muslim one with his attacks against our churches and our faithful, and the Israeli right wing, invading more and more Jerusalem, trying to transform it to an only Hebrew-Jewish city, excluding the other faiths."

In this context, he affirmed: "Obviously we can't change the political situation, and in front of a frustrating situation, we can invest our time, energy, resources in making a difference to the life of our people. This is what the synod recommended in reinforcing and strengthening the local Christians in the Holy Land. So I invite you to consider contributing by your solidarity to the well-being of our Christian communities, and to help us in giving a reason to stay in their homeland and in preserving the Christian presence in Jerusalem in particular and in the Holy Land in general, through various sector of pastoral and social services."

Patriarch Twal concluded by expressing the wish that "the days to come allow us to discover the beauty of the communion among us, and may that beauty strengthen us in our commitment to solidarity. I hope that the meetings, visits and prayers of these days will reveal to us the way forward to sustain Christ's mystical body here, so that this land may always have sons and daughters who are living stones, proclaiming that Jesus is alive and offering forgiveness and hope for all the inhabitants of this Holy Land."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31408?l=english