Patriarch reacts to instability in the region affecting Latin Patriarchate in Gaza and Jordan
Press release – Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, November 21 issued a “call” to the” authorities of Israel and Hamas to take courageous decisions in favor of peace.” Following the Holy Father, the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal strongly condemned the war in Gaza. The Patriarch also calls his fellow Jordanians to remain calm while their country is shaken by recent disturbing events.
The Israeli offensive against Gaza enters its second week, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem expressed deep sympathy for the victims of “Operation Pillar of Defense.” The Patriarch said, he is horrified by the massive damage of this war which he considers catastrophic in human and economic terms. On Tuesday, November 20, he called the Latin Parish in Gaza and joined them from a distance for the funeral of an Orthodox Christian. He expressed his most sincere moral and spiritual support on behalf of the Mother Church. He assured the religious communities and parishioners that he will be in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the parish Christmas Mass on December 16, a pastoral visit that is set every year around Christmas.
The Patriarch stressed that this war brought absolutely nothing good for anyone. The bombing severely affected everyone, children, husbands and wives. Everyone is extremely horrified, taking refuge in halls and passageways. On one hand, the Palestinians in Gaza suffer disproportionately from Israeli conducted air raids. On the other hand, the Israelis are fearful of the rockets from Gaza.
Some pilgrim groups have canceled their trips to the Holy Land. It is a dark shadow of war that is looming before us. And yet, God knows how many pilgrimages contribute to peace, they are a sign of spiritual, human and economic solidarity, with and for all the inhabitants of the Holy Land. The Patriarch said that war is never holy. He totally condemns the option of war, violence and destruction that poses a threat to the security and stability of the region. He appealed to all people of good will and all authorities who seemingly have in their hands the destiny of their peoples. He begs them to think of the innocent victims.
“It must be understood,” he added, “that the situation in the Gaza Strip is equivalent to an open-air prison and as such, people are desperate and are far from living a normal life.” He hopes that diplomatic efforts of the Arab League, Egypt and Israel reach a truce, while recognizing that the truce is not the best solution. He insists that we must seek a just and lasting solution. “Let us all pray to the Lord to give us peace that men cannot take away from us.”
In the diocese to the east, Jordan
The Patriarch shares the concerns of Jordanians and their families with the rising cost of living. He also shares the concerns of leaders in conducting the affairs of the country in the midst of a global and local crises and without disregarding the presence in the country of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. The present disturbances are not solving anything.
During his time in Egypt for the enthronement of Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II, Patriarch Twal shared much of the anxiety that is sweeping Jordan, a country that has been known for its stability where reason and common sense of leaders have prevailed. He sincerely hopes that there will be “wise men who have at heart, the good of Jordan” and “wealthy men” who in conscience and love will help the poor families. May they be courageous and generous in opening their hearts to alleviate the sufferings of people in Jordan.
“We entrust this region, its leaders and its people to our prayers here in holy places,” concluded the Patriarch.