Jerusalem Patriarch´s Impassioned Call for Dialogue

Wants Return to Peace Talks

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JERUSALEM, OCT. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- With the Holy Land´s intifada now a year old, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem wrote a pastoral letter calling for justice for the Palestinian people, and compliance with international law.



The patriarch appealed for the renewal of peace talks as the only possible way out of the impasse.

In the letter published Tuesday, Patriarch Sabbah quotes a passage from St. Luke´s Gospel.

"It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices," the letter stated, quoting Luke 13:1-3. "At this he said to them: ´Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.´"

"The lesson is clear: Penitence will save from bloodshed," the patriarch wrote. "Penitence means to see God and all God´s children; it means to imitate God in his love and justice, in all relations between persons and peoples.

"In light of this penitence, we see that the present events which we experience in these days, invite us to raise our prayers to God, and to ask him to enlighten the minds of those who are responsible for our government in this land, and to give us, also, light and strength to know how to choose and make our destiny as we would like it to be, in this confused and troubled world, where good is mingled with evil, and where justice is often lacking in our human society."

The Catholic spiritual leader believes that the only way forward is to "go back to the peace talks," and see how "to return to the situation that prevailed before 1967. The way to pacify the situation is to understand that the Holy Places cannot be touched [or] subjected to any bargaining."

"To deploy soldiers, military vehicles, and even missiles will not bring peace and order; only justice will," he stressed.

There must be an immediate end to bloodshed, he insisted, and the Palestinian people must be given "the right to live and to self-determination."

The patriarch stated he is in favor of a Palestinian state that will "have the stability that allows it to reorganized its own affairs, external and internal."

As regards Jerusalem, Patriarch Sabbah said it should be the capital of two states, Palestinian and Israeli, but, above all, it should remain the "Holy City, protected and respected by its own governors and the whole international community."