Pilgrims Urged to Visit Holy Land at Christmas

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Franciscans in Jerusalem, Custodians of the Holy Land, have joined in launching a call for a "peaceful invasion" of the Holy Land.



Father Ibrahim Faltas, of the Order of Friars Minor, and Hanna Nasser, mayor of Bethlehem, relayed a message inviting Christian pilgrims to travel to the Holy Land.

"Invade the Holy Land for a few days at Christmas," they said in a statement to the Vatican's Fides agency, "and let yourselves by won over by its cultural and human message. In this way you will offer a concrete and constructive contribution towards peace worth much more than a thousand words."

Tourism, a mainstay of the local economy, has been devastated since the intifada, the Palestinian uprising, broke out three years ago.

"You will have the opportunity to demonstrate your solidarity with those in difficulty and to offer hope," the message of Father Faltas and Nasser said. "This will be for everyone an act of love and respect for the communities living here amid so many difficulties."

"With your presence as tourists and pilgrims, you would not be in any danger and you would do much to restore daily normality," the statement added.