Prelate: Christian Forgiveness Seen As Apathy

Laments Perceived Lack of Commitment in Holy Land

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GENOA, Italy, MARCH 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is explaining that Christians in the Holy Land are often criticized for their attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation, though these are much needed.



Archbishop Fouad Twal stated this Wednesday in St. Lawrence Cathedral in Genoa, where he gave an address on the situation of the Church in the Holy Land and the effects of Benedict XVI's visit last year.

"We must sow hope and peace to take concrete steps of reconciliation" in the Holy Land, but there still "are persons who pursue contrary objectives and have no sense of responsibility," the prelate said.

In Palestine, he explained, "Arab Catholics address the challenge" of being seen at times by the rest of Palestinian Arabs as taking "a political position" that lacks commitment, "as if our Christians committed on the front of justice, peace and dialogue will not take positions 'against' the occupying 'enemy.'"
 
"The theology and pastoral program of forgiveness and purification of the memory are easily interpreted as proof of the lack of commitment," Archbishop Twal noted.
 
He lamented recent confrontations in the Holy Land, "sad and painful events that do no more than aggravate hatred, rejection and rancor towards the other," reported the Italian news agency SIR.
 
"As Christians," the prelate said, "let us make our own again the appeal of Jesus and of the Holy Father to greater dialogue, to reconciliation and let us avoid stupid gestures that don't help anyone."
 
He described the reality of Christians in the patriarchate's territory: There are some 50,000 Christians in the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and more than 200,000 in Israel.

Complex situations
 
Archbishop Twal said that pastoral care of these people "is combined with requirements that at times go beyond the very exigencies of the faith, mixed with a complexity of sentiments, tensions, anger and desires."

He added that this complexity is "due to the situation" of the people that feel they are, "along with all the other Palestinian Arabs, 'occupied' by Israel."
 
"I have asked the Christians of Israel, the majority Arab in language and culture, to be a 'bridge' between two religions, between two civilizations, between two cultures, between two politics," the prelate affirmed.
 
He referred to the "challenge of the Jewish world" that, "if on one hand represents the world of our roots of faith, on the other, politically, represents the 'occupier.'"
 
The archbishop continued, "Any occupation is always hated and harms the occupier, who loses the sense of respect and dignity of others, as well as the occupied, increasing the feeling of rejection, of rancor and of resistance."
 
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem pointed out that Palestinian Christians "suffer the consequences of the tragic situation in which the whole of Palestine finds itself, in particular, enormous unemployment."
 
He added that "the political situation and the situation of general insecurity tempt Catholics to emigrate to safer regions of the world, from the occupational, professional and religious point of view."
 
Hence, the prelate said, "the problem of Christians in Palestine is a progressive hemorrhage due to emigration."