Israeli President conveys Easter greetings to Jerusalem Churches
JERUSALEM – On Monday, May 9, 2016, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited the Armenian Patriarchate to convey Easter greetings to the Christian community in the Holy Land, represented by the various Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. In his speech, the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, urged the Israeli government to keep its commitments, particularly towards Christian schools in Israel.
A year earlier, President Rivlin hosted a surprise traditional Easter greetings at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. This year, it was the Armenian Patriarchate that he visited to express his wishes and goodwill towards the Christian community in the Holy Land. All the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem gathered for the occasion.
The meeting was punctuated by four speeches. Those of three Patriarchs – Armenian, Greek-Orthodox and Latin, followed by the Israeli President. All recalled the universal and unique, sacred character of Jerusalem.
In his speech delivered in English, the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, called for the courage of each to build a society of peace: “In this region, where walls separate one community from another, we must be courageous in opening our doors and hearts to all, regardless of their religion, gender or nationality.” The Latin Patriarch acknowledged the “profound sensibility (of the President) to equity and equality “ while speaking his desire to see “the government of Israel would recognize that, ignoring its Christian citizens, Church leaders and their concerns is not an advantage”; adding that, “A greater willingness to listen to them, as you are doing now, would greatly advance good relations.”
Continuing, the Latin Patriarch explicitly pleaded with the Israeli President for the cause of Christian schools in Israel: “I also wish that the Ministry of Education would show more consideration to the contribution made by Christian schools to Israeli society. And, specifically, I would like the Minister of Education to fulfill his promise, when he pledged ILS 50 million to our schools to end their strike, which to date remains an unfulfilled promise.” The Patriarch finally recalled the importance and value of the education of the young in a troubled society, prone to violence. He has expressed his “deep appreciation” to the President for all of his different initiatives regarding the Christian community, including the meeting held in the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves in Tabgha, a victim of arson, in August 2015.
In his speech, which rounded off the meeting, President Rivlin reminded all, of Jerusalem’s vocation to be “the City of Peace” and emphasized the importance of respect for religious freedom in the country. Recalling a tormented Middle East, the Israeli President mentioned the situation of believers in the Syrian city, Aleppo, where the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian was born.