Patriarch Sabbah Calls Barrier a Blow for Peace

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BETHLEHEM, West Bank, DEC. 25, 2003 ( Prayers for Mideast peace found little resonance of hope in Jesus' birthplace as Bethlehem spent another Christmas encircled by the Israeli army.

Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem said in a Christmas homily that Israel's building of a huge barrier through the West Bank was a blow to peace efforts.

"The military barrier is turning Palestinian cities and villages into a huge prison, demolishing houses and agriculture," he said at Midnight Mass, according to Reuters. Christian Palestinians and foreign pilgrims made their way through Israeli army roadblocks to pack the ancient Church of the Nativity for the Mass.