Anglican leader visits, urges Christians to stay in J'lem, Bethlehem
July 30, 2001
Anglican leader urges Christians to stay despite violence
By The Associated Press
Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the spiritual leader of 73 million
Anglicans worldwide, urged Christians to remain in the Holy Land, despite 10
months of violence and economic hardships.
Palestinian Christians, always a minority, have been gradually leaving the
Holy Land. They are now barely two percent of the roughly 3 million
Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, according to
"To the Christians in this land, we want to urge you, and it's easy for me
to say this as an outsider: stay put, make your mark but share your message
with the rest of us around the world," Carey said.
On a four-day pastoral visit to the region, Carey said he was shocked and
disturbed by what he had seen.
"The situation facing the churches is very serious, it's compounded by
problems such as the economic situation in east Jerusalem, the West Bank,
Gaza, added to by the inability to move freely," he told reporters.
"We have to remember that in a polarized situation such as this, you have
division, but you also have a sharing of pain, tears and suffering," Carey
Carey met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasser Arafat during his visit. He recommended that both sides
adopt the findings of a U.S.-led fact-finding commission that set out a
multi-staged program for stopping the violence and resuming peace talks.
Carey criticized Israel's stringent security measures, calling them one of
the main reasons Palestinian Christians were leaving the area. "Simply,
security at any price will not do," Carey said.
During his stay, Carey visited the traditionally Christian district of
Bethlehem, as well as Gaza and Jerusalem. At least 300 people have left
Bethlehem in recent months, with most heading to the United States and other
countries in the Americas, Palestinians say. The town where Jesus was born
is now heavily Muslim.
"We are frightfully concerned with Christians from the Holy Land leaving in
despair, and we have to say it is because of frustration, a daily sense of
humiliation," Carey said.
"It's in the best interest of Muslims and Jews to have Christians here who
can make their own contribution because none of us want Jerusalem and
Bethlehem to become Disneyland sites, we want this to be a place of living
worship," Carey said.
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