Thursday, 19 November 2009

Patriarch Fouad Twal speaking about the situation of Christians in the Holy Land

The Bishops' Conference website has published the text of an address to the Bishops' Conference by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The address presents the position of Christians in the Holy Land, and is worth reading. His Beatitude Fouad Twal is realistic in his assessment of the situation, without taking a stance that is "purely political".

The difficulties created by the policies of the Israeli government with regard to new settlements are referred to:
In recent weeks, much attention has been focused on the Israeli government’s plans to wrest Arab East Jerusalem from its Palestinian residents. House demolition, expropriation and new plans to unilaterally define much Jerusalem territory as "national park land" are threatening not only the peace of Jerusalem but also its multi-confessional identity. An important segment of this land belongs to different Churches. Alongside this, the government continues to sponsor settling Jews in Arab East Jerusalem, building neighborhoods and enlarging the existing ones. Most worrying is the fact that the Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount, is again becoming a locus of tension as radical Jews do not hide their intention to remove the Muslim shrines there in order to reconstruct the Third Temple.
I noticed particularly His Beatitude's remarks about the part played by Catholic educational institutions sponsored by the Latin Patriarchate. Unlike Catholic schools in the UK, where the premise generally is that they exist to educate Catholic children, this is a context where many of the students will not be Catholics.
Another significant sign of the vitality of our Church is the ongoing development of the planned university linked to the Latin Patriarchate in Madaba. We are convinced that our large, established and respected Catholic school system has had a significant and positive effect upon the life and culture of Jordan, and has been no small factor in Jordan’s role, as a force of moderation and tolerance in the Middle East. We wish to expand that effect by opening this university, which we expect will attract students from the entire region, and not just from Jordan. I urge you to take this new initiative to heart and be involved. ‘Involvement’ does not only mean financial support but help to make strong connections with English and Welsh universities.

In this connection, I might mention the excellent work of our Latin Patriarchate schools throughout the diocese. These schools that are of a high standard and promote Christian values need your support too. We truly believe that through these schools we are making a difference in our region.

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