I greet all the faithful with the words of Saint Paul:" The grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the communion of the Holy
Spirit be with you".
Our people in the Holy Land is living gloomy days during which the dream
of peace which seemed very close, is now vanishing away. Violence, retaliation,
fear, death, unemployment, the end of the peace process summarize our situation
today. The absence of pilgrims rendered our Holy shrines empty and sad.
Many of our young people were working in the pilgrimage and tourism sector.
Besides, the difficulty in moving between Palestinian cities and the closure
of the Palestinian Territories rendered the economical situation very bad.
We pray the Lord that the mediation of our brothers and sisters christians
all over the world will be more efficient in the future. Otherwise, the
Holy Land, the Christian Community and our Catholic institutions will deeply
suffer. Thousands of families do not have enough resources to cope with
the requirements of human dignity.
In the last months, we felt the strong solidarity of our sister churches
through their statements and clear positions concerning Jerusalem
and the peace process. It was felt during the Holy Father’s visit to the
Holy Land for which you contributed with a special collection. Therefore,
we appeal to your Country, wishing that your Government exerts an efficient
and balanced role in the settlement of the Palestinian problem. We appeal
also to your Communities on behalf of the bereaved and needy families,
the wounded, the homeless, the Catholic Schools of the Latin Patriarchate
and Bethlehem University which are struggling to keep upon.
We thank you for whatever you can do to alleviate suffering and to reestablish
a just and lasting peace. We rely on your prayers, so that the forthcoming
Christmas 2000, will be a joyful celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord,
the Prince of peace, and the threshold to a new era of peace and reconciliation
among the two peoples and the three religions living in the Holy Land.
With sentiments of gratitude and prayerful best wishes,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem