GERMANY – Speaking at the 100th Catholic Day Conference in Leipzig on May 28, 2016, Patriarch Fouad Twal reflected on the situation in the Holy Land, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, its international implications, and the Mission of the Church in the heart of the conflict.
This year, Patriarch Twal was among the guests of honour at the 100th Catholic Day in Leipzig, Germany. A day organized every two years by the central Committee of German Catholics, which invites participants to various forums, conferences, exhibitions, concerts and masses, to reflect on religious themes but also on current political challenges in the world.
In his speech, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem reflected on the “hopelessness” generated by the current situation in the Holy Land and the “deadlock” in which is caught the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many people already hear the death knell of the “funeral of the two-state solution” because of “Palestinian incompetence” on the one hand, and “Israeli arrogance” on the other hand, said Archbishop Twal.
The Patriarch spoke of “the occupation that deprives Palestinians of human rights – freedom, equality and self-determination”, a damaging situation “for both occupier and the occupied” since it feeds an endless spiral of violence, “resistance” and retaliation. He added, “Israeli leaders have successfully managed to portray the occupation of Palestine, as part of the war on terrorism”. At the same time, he did not fail to praise “courageous Israeli writers, who love their country enough to write critically of unjust government and military policies and actions.”
Colonization is the stumbling block in the conflict: “In the West Bank, it is forbidden for Palestinians in 60% of cases to develop a farm, build a factory or even work their own land due to the expansion of settlements” said the Patriarch, while deploring the inaction of the international community regarding the continuing illegal colonization.
Faced with this impasse, “Europe has a decisive role to play,” said Patriarch Twal, including “upholding international law, without fear or favor.”
“In the year of Mercy,” said the Patriarch with conviction, concluding his speech, “the Holy Land Christians are called to continue to hope where there is no hope”, and both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, must “begin to move towards truth and reconciliation, in a process of mutual forgiveness, recognizing the legitimacy of each other.” The Patriarch raised the central importance of education in building a new society where “school curricula and textbooks must be changed on both sides for the sake of acceptance of others.” A new society in which “the Churches of the Holy land must contribute with their many institutions, schools, hospitals, universities to create a new mentality and a new generation of leaders.”
“Jerusalem must be a city of worship and reconciliation … where Jews, Christians and Muslims should enjoy the freedom to reach their holy places” noted the Bishop of Jerusalem, before concluding, “It requires more courage to make peace than war. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14: 27). With these words, we can continue to hope”.
Photos : archives ©LPJ / Thomas Charrière