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36Message of hope

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  • Thomas Daniel
    Apr 6, 2001
      -----Original Message-----
      Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 7:42 PM

      JERUSALEM, April 6, 2001--The Patriarchs and Bishops of the historic
      churches in this Holy City have addressed a message of hope to the
      members of their congregations scattered across Israel and Palestine.

      In what is becoming increasingly common in days that they acknowledge
      are filled with "deep despair," these church leaders speak with a
      single voice to their own faithful and to Christians around the world.

      The message of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders is both
      deeply spiritual and urgently contemporary. The full text follows:

      Common Easter Message by Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and Their
      Excellencies the Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem

      "Christ is risen!" (Luke 24:1-52).

      Jesus, Lord and Saviour, has risen today, just as He had foretold His
      apostles. "They will put Him to death, and on the third day He will
      rise again" (Matthew 17:23).

      Indeed, after the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
      Churches of Jerusalem witness with one voice and one heart to the
      glory of His Resurrection as they rejoice in the hope and strength
      that comes from that empty tomb in the heart of our Holy City.

      Before bearing the cross Himself, Jesus had called upon His disciples
      to carry the cross and follow Him. He had asked them to walk the
      narrow path that leads toward salvation. This double vision of the
      cross and the Resurrection applies to the situation in which we find
      ourselves today.

      Our suffering and fear in the past few months has increased in view
      of the uncertainty of the political situation. We reassure each and
      every one of our sons and daughters that we share the pain of every
      family that is deprived of hope as they go through their daily lives
      without jobs and income or are exposed physically and psychologically
      to the painful measures that are imposed upon them.

      Although the closures that are sealing most of the Palestinian
      territories bring days of deep despair, we ought to remain committed
      to hope. "call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I
      have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Choose life
      so that you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

      In this cycle of struggle and suffering, we detect also the way of
      the cross that will ultimately lead toward the glory of the
      Resurrection. Thus celebrating Easter means the restoration of our
      hope that victory of life over death also will be witnessed in the
      troubled land of ours.

      This will only happen when violence and discrimination give way for a
      real peace, between the "two peoples and the three religions" this
      small land where God chose to reveal His divine will. Such a peace
      can only be secured through mutual reconciliation based on the
      respect for the dignity and value God has given to all human beings.

      In no way can this peace be imposed by sheer force: it is nurtured by
      an honest application of justice and mercy in line with
      internationally accepted legitimate resolutions for the benefit of
      the weaker part. Therefore, all of us, who claim faith in the Living
      God who has overcome death and sin, are called today to witness and
      work with steadfast determination and persistent commitment. The
      words of the prophet Isaiah come fittingly to mind: "See the former
      things have come to pass and new things I now declare: before they
      spring forth I tell you of them."(Isaiah 42:9)

      God speaks to us of a time in which the relationship of creation with
      the Creator is restored, justice is the benchmark of every nation,
      and the light of redemption shines in the deepest corners of despair.

      As all the Churches of Jerusalem celebrate the paschal festivities
      together this first year of the new millenium, they also affirm that
      the experience of Easter is one of liberation. It is a triumph of
      life over death, of peace over violence. Looking at the One God who
      manifested His power over servitude and death, we address all secular
      and political authorities to welcome into their hearts the good will
      and good faith that builds new generations with renewed hope and
      sustained confidence.

      Today, we ask our faithful in the Holy Land as well as all believers
      world-wide to share with us in the transformation of hearts and minds
      so that the true joy that comes with the Risen Lord can also infuse
      their own lives.

      We pray for an end to the unjustifiable deaths that plague our
      societies. We pray for the immediate end of all collective
      punishments, especially for the lifting of the closures of
      Palestinians towns and villages. We pray for the good will of
      Palestinians and Israelis: "of Jews, Christians and Muslims
      alike" in actively working for justice and peace. We pray for
      equality so that one no longer sees the neigbour as an enemy but
      rather as a brother or sister with whom to build a new society.

      Ours is a message of hope and compassion, of reconciliation and
      joy. To all, we affirm that Easter is the time to become one voice
      and one heart before the Lord so that "we may come to know Him and
      the power of the Resurrection" (Philippians 3:10) in a genuine, just
      and comprehensive peace that no longer disparages one God-given life
      over another.

      Our Christian message remains constant year in year out. Life conquers
      death, and love defeats hatred. Hope tramples desolation, joy
      overcomes despair and peace ends violence. So let us all proclaim
      together: "Where, o death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your
      sting?.. But thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord
      Jesus Christ!" (1Corinthians 15:55.57).

      The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed.

      (Signed by the the Heads of the thirteen traditional Churches in

      + Archimandrite Cornelius: Locum Tenens, Greek Orthodox

      + Patriarch Michel Sabbah: Latin Patriarchate.

      + Patriarch Torkom II: Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate.

      + Ignatius VIII Pierre Abdul-Ahad: Syrian Catholic Patriarch.

      Father Giovanni Battistelli: Custody of the Holy Land.

      + Anba Abraham: Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

      + Swerios Malki Mourad: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.

      + Abba Gabriel: Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate.

      + Riah Abu Al-Assal: Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle

      + Mounib Younan: Lutheran Evangelical Church.

      + Maximus Sallum: Greek Catholic (Melkite) Patriarchal Exarchate.

      + Paul Nabil Sayyah: Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate.

      + Andr Dikran Bedoghlyan: Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarcate.


      Title: Jerusalem Patriarchs See Hope in Midst of Despair
      Contact: Fr. Raed Awad Abusahlia
      P.O.Box 14152 Jerusalem 91141
      Tel. (972 2) 628.2323 / 627.2280
      Fax (972 2) 627.1652