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
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
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
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