New Custodian of Holy Land Makes a Peace Plea
Appeal of Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa
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JERUSALEM, MAY 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The new Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land made a plea to Israelis and Palestinians after yet another act of Mideast violence: "Stop before it is too late."
Last Wednesday, the Israeli Army fired at hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting against Israel's incursion into the refugee camp in Rafah in the Gaza Strip the previous day. At least 12 Palestinians died.
"Nothing will be achieved by continuing on this path," said Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the new custodian, in an interview published Friday by the Italian episcopate's SIR agency.
"Violence generates hatred, fear and vengeance," he said. "This is why I say it must stop before it is too late."
For the superior, who was appointed Custodian of the Holy Land on May 15, the Christian communities here give witness by their work for peace.
"We Christians are a small presence and we must be conscious of our limitations and also of our difficulties. But we can propose a lifestyle ..., a different style of behavior," he told Vatican Radio.
The superior stressed how important it is for the Franciscans of the Custody "to reinforce their prophetic attitude before all," that is, "to be witnesses of reconciliation and peace, to live like reconciled persons, especially among ourselves."
In the context of the present conflict, Father Pizzaballa said the manipulation of religion "is not a risk but a reality." He urged Christians to avoid such manipulation and said, "We must be close to all, love all, keep ourselves free before all."