JERUSALEM – As customary every year, representatives of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem visited the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate, to present their greetings following the Armenian celebrations of Christmas and Epiphany. At the heart of the exchanges and discussions is the current crisis among the Eastern Christians.
The delegation led by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, consisted of heads of the Churches of Jerusalem and priests accompanying them. Anglicans, Lutherans, Ethiopians, Copts, Syriacs, Melkites, Greek Orthodox and Latin Catholics all gathered at the Armenian Patriarchate in a warm and fraternal atmosphere.
On behalf of all the Churches, Archbishop Pizzaballa expressed Christmas and New Year wishes to Patriarch Manougian and the Armenian community (see full speech) “We, the Churches of Jerusalem, are here to testify to the entire world that what the Scriptures say about Jesus is not a myth or a tale, but it is history, it is a reality that we can still touch every day in the Holy Places of our Redemption.” He called the Churches to “mutual understanding and cooperation in this particular period of difficulties for our respective Christian communities.”
Patriarch Manougian responded and referred to the painful situation in the region and the “most dramatic events affecting the Christians of the East, especially in Iraq and Syria, where they are subject to violence and dispersion and consequently, the loss of their heritage”. He drew a parallel between the present tragedy experienced by the Eastern Christians, noting, however a major difference: “The Armenian genocide was planned by the State, whereas in Iraq and Syria, states are doing their best to protect their populations and with external help from other states”. His Beatitude also deplored the dispersal of the faithful who leave the Middle East, “those children and grandchildren who gradually forget their mother tongue, culture and heritage.” He praised “the efforts of the Catholic Church in the region to mitigate the suffering of Christians”. After imploring God’s blessing upon all, he ended by expressing his hope for “a better future for the region.”
Pictures : © Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem