Jerusalem Patriarch Appeals to Leaders to Believe in Peace

In His Christmas Message

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem says that Christmas gives the bloodstained Holy Land the message that the "other" is capable of wanting peace.



Addressing Israeli and Palestinian leaders in particular, Patriarch Michel Sabbah presented his traditional Christmas message to the press today, stating: "We continue to live under occupation. We continue to endure violence, humiliation of the human person, fear and insecurity."

In "order to reach peace, one must believe that the other is capable of wanting peace and of building with us. The rulers must begin by professing this," he explained in his Christmas message.

"The voices now being heard from among the people and the different initiatives that call for peace and for an official change of attitude show that the two peoples want peace and that peace is indeed possible," the patriarch added.

"Truly, nobody, neither Israeli nor Palestinian, wants war and bloodshed. Israelis are in search of their security and Palestinians are in search of their land and liberty," he said.

"In this world, leaders speak peace and make war," Patriarch Sabbah said. "When we pray and meditate the mystery of Christmas, we say that this must all change. After all, it is not for this that God created us in his image and likeness."

"God wanted us here, in this Holy Land, in order to be brothers and sisters to one another," he continued. "He wanted us here in order that we might be a source of peace and justice for each other and in order that we might cooperate together in putting an end to all oppression and all evil in our lives."

"For this reason, the Christmas message is first of all a message of hope and spiritual strength that opposes all material strength. It is a message of hope and spiritual strength despite all the obstacles that rise up in the way of peace," he said.

Among the obstacles to peace, the patriarch's message mentions in particular "the wall of separation" that the Israeli government is building to isolate the Palestinian territories. The barrier, condemned by the international community, is pushing peace further away, delaying it until the wall comes down, the patriarch concluded.