(Vatican Radio) June 26, 2015 – The Holy See signed on Friday a Comprehensive Agreement with the State of Palestine, which deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.
The formal signing of the Agreement has been years in the making, following the Basic Agreement signed on 15 February 2000.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States for the Vatican City State, addressed the Palestinian delegation, represented by Doctor Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, at the Signing Ceremony.
Below is Archbishop Gallagher’s address:
Address of His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher,
Secretary for Relations with States
Signing Ceremony for the Comprehensive Agreement
between the Holy See and the State of Palestine
26 June 2015
I would like, first and foremost, to welcome you and your Delegation to the Secretariat of State, on the auspicious occasion of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, which marks an important step on the path of good relations which for some time have happily existed between the Parties.
This present Agreement follows on from the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was signed on 15 February 2000. It is the result of the negotiations of a special Bilateral Commission which has worked at various levels over recent years, with dedication and competence, in a most cordial atmosphere.
In contrast with the earlier Agreement, the present one is being signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine; this is indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian Authority in recent years, and above all of the level of international support, which culminated in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 29 November 2012, which recognized Palestine as a non-member Observer State at the United Nations.
In this context, it is my hope that the present Agreement may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties. I also hope that the much desired two-State solution may become a reality as soon as possible. The peace process can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties, with the support of the international community. This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region.Read More
(Vatican Radio) June 26, 2015 – The Holy See and the State of Palestine signed a Comprehensive Agreement on Friday in the Vatican. Some 15 years in the making, the Comprehensive Agreement is the culmination of work that began on the basis of the Basic Agreement signed by the parties on January 15th, 2000.
The Comprehensive Agreement deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine, including the freedom of the Church to operate and of Christians to practice their faith and participate fully in society, continuing their long tradition of active and essential contribution to the common good.
In remarks on the occasion, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said, “In the complex reality of the Middle East, where in some countries Christians have even suffered persecution, this Agreement offers a good example of dialogue and cooperation, and I earnestly hope that this may serve as a model for other Arab and Muslim majority countries.” Archbishop Gallagher went on to emphasize the importance of the chapter in the Agreement dedicated to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. “I once again reaffirm the Holy See’s particular solicitude for the Middle East and for the Holy Land, and its joy at the Agreement that has been reached,” he said.Read More
Abouna.org – The Catholic Church in Jordan marked on Friday, June 19, the national Christian pilgrimage to the grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary ”Our Lady of the Mountain” in the town of Anjara, Ajloun Governorate, which has been regarded as one of the major Christian pilgrimage sites in Jordan since 2000.
Marking this anniversary, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal celebrated a ceremonial Mass. His homily focused on the need to trust in the Almighty God particularly at these critical times experienced by the Orient which are characterized by fear, pain, persecution, wars, displacement and tears.
He added: “Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Mountain, shed tears of blood in 2010 in sympathy with the Orient as if she was saying, ‘fear not’. After the ascension of Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven, the disciples formed a family united with Virgin Mary. This is the example we should follow after our pilgrimage today, namely to be united and to rally around our mother, Virgin Mary.”
Patriarch Twal also referred to the importance of maintaining the fraternal relations between the Muslims and Christians whose consolidation is attributed to the role undertaken by the Hashemite leadership. He also congratulated the Arab and Muslim nations on the advent of the holy month of Ramadan and recalled the message issued by the Vatican days ago titled, “Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion”.Read More
Abouna.org, June 25, 2015 – Jordan’s Baptism Site has been nominated for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List when the World Heritage Committee meets in Bonn (Germany) from June 28 to July 8 to examine proposals to inscribe 37 properties, the international organisation announced Wednesday, June 24.
In a statement posted on its website, UNESCO said the Baptism Site, 40km west of Amman, is classified among mixed natural and cultural sites. Also known as Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the site is where Lord Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist. [see http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1556]Read More
Says Christians Still Cling to Hope Following Attack at Church of the Multiplication
This report was contributed by Marta Petrosillo of Aid to the Church in Need
Zenit, June 25, 2015 – In wake of the arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication on the Sea of Galilee, the Vatican’s diplomatic representative to the Holy Land said the local Church faces a significant challenge in pursuing dialogue with factions in the Jewish community that appear to outright reject Christianity.
To “transform a shared home into a family, through dialogue, that is the challenge” for the Church in the Holy Land, said Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the papal nuncio in Israel and apostolic delegate for Palestine, in an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
Referring to the June 18 attack on the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, the prelate said: “Such actions are a cause of great bitterness to us, since—although it is not shared by the majority of the population—they express an attitude of closure, of refusal to accept the presence of those who are different from them.”
Regardless, he stressed, the Christian community is continuing to pursue the path of dialogue—dialogue among Christians, and dialogue with Jews and Muslims. “This is what Pope Francis is constantly recalling us to—to educate ourselves and others to dialogue.” Reconciliation, he suggested, would encourage members of the region’s already tiny Christian community not to emigrate.
One possible hope for the future be the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community, which has grown rapidly in recent years, thanks to the presence of the children of Catholic migrant workers in Israel. “This is a new and beautiful reality, to which we must pay careful attention and which may in future play a fundamental role,” the archbishop said.Read More
(Vatican Radio) June 25, 2015 – Pope Francis on Thursday said Jews and Christians can continue to cooperate together “for the good of the peoples of our time” and work for peace together – especially in the Holy Land and the Middle East. Speaking to representatives of B’nai B’rith International, a Jewish organization that sponsors cultural programs and promotes religious tolerance and international cooperation, the Pope recalled the landmark Vatican II declaration, Nostra Aetate which laid the groundwork for the Catholic Church’s relations with Jews. Founded in 1843, B’nai B’rith, which also provides humanitarian aid and community service in needy areas, has a presence in more than 50 countries across the globe.
In his remarks, the Pope said, “respect for life and creation, human dignity, justice and solidarity unite us for the development of society and for securing a future rich in hope for generations to come. In a particular way, we are called to pray and work together for peace. Unfortunately, there are many countries and regions of the world that live in situations of conflict – I think in particular of the Holy Land and the Middle East – and that require a courageous commitment to peace…”Read More
Christian Peace Team (Hebron), June 20, 2015 – Pictured here: Ramadan has just started and the Old City of Hebron streets as filled with worshippers on their way to the Ibrahimiye mosque. The old market (souq) is vibrant and full of customers. And this shows how the Old City was before all the restrictions and how it could be without the constant pressures of the Israeli Occupation that have led to its economic collapse. CPT Palestine wish all a Blessed Ramadan.Read More
Jesuit Priest Reflects on Ministering to Faithful Despite War and Persecution
Oliver Maksan of Aid to the Church in Need contributed to this report published by Zenit Staff on June 24, 2015
HOMS, Syria (June 23, 2015)—It would be hard to find a more dangerous posting in the Jesuit order today than ministering to the faithful of this city in the heart Syria’s “Valley of the Christians.” And Syrian Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal has been based here for half a dozen years, witnessing some of the worst horrors of the country’s civil war that began in 2011.
Back under the fragile control of the Syrian regime, Homs—much of the city destroyed—was the site of fierce fighting between the government and rebels for several years. Early last year, a fellow Jesuit, Dutch Father Frans van der Lugt was brutally executed by a jihadist. Yet, Father Hilal stayed on. “As a priest, it is my duty to help people,” he said.
“We already began providing aid to war refugees in 2011,” Father Ziad told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need; “unfortunately, we haven’t run out of work since.” A major part of his job recently has been organizing the provision of humanitarian aid to displaced people through the Jesuit Refugee Service. The latest wave of refugees is coming from the major city of Aleppo, which is fiercely fought over by the regime and the opposition and also sits in the crosshairs of ISIS.
“At the moment we are taking care of about 300 Christian families from Aleppo,” said the priest, stressing that the greatest difficulty is finding housing for the newcomers: “most of the people have nothing. They also don’t have jobs. And so we pay the rent for them. But unfortunately, there are those who exploit the emergency situation—even including Christians,” said Father Hilal, adding: “War also brings out the worst in people.”Read More
Abouna.org, June 19, 2015 – Church functionaries in Jordan have condemned the attack which has targeted an ancient Roman Orthodox church in Madaba.
The Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) has denounced this incident considering that any attack on a church is viewed as being an attack on the entire holy places, and an attempt to create tension among the citizens at a time when the CCSM calls for consolidating national unity in compliance with the wish of His Majesty the King.
In a statement issued on Thursday, June 19, the CCSM said that the first day of Ramadan is a holy day, and it would have been better for this day to be a day for respect for religions. The statement stressed that what has taken place is merely an isolated crime that does not represent the genuine nature and the traditions of the noble Jordanian people.Read More
by Ron Kronis, Founding Director, Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel
Is it really happening? Are we actually witnessing the burning of churches and mosques on a regular basis in the Jewish state? Impossible! It can’t be happening!
Jews, who have suffered so much persecution and pogroms in their own history could not possibly do such things. Jews–whose Torah clearly teaches them to be kind to ” the stranger”, the minority in your midst, for “you were strangers in the land of Egypt”–should not be able to even imagine themselves as people who could burn churches or mosques indiscriminately.
But it is happening! During the past 3 1/2years, 43 churches and mosques have been vandalized.
And what is even more amazing is that not a single culprit has been caught, arrested or brought to justice! Whoever is doing this has apparently outsmarted all the security forces in the state of Israel! They are geniuses and succeed in covering their tracks in every case!
I asked a politician whom I met at a conference a few months ago to explain this to me, and he said quite clearly that “it is all politics”. Is this possible? Are all of our political and legal authorities not doing what they should on this matter for internal narrow political considerations?
It is widely known that there are Jewish extremist groups who are behind these acts of violence. I have heard former head of the Security Services in Israel , Carmi Gillon, say more than once that the perpetrators of these hate crimes are well known to the security services. They know where they sleep, whom they talk to on the phone, where they live, and what they do during the day (but apparently not at night). But there never seems to be enough proof to arrest them and prosecute them!
If the culprits were Palestinians, they would certainly have been caught, arrested and sentenced a long time ago. But the new “Jewish underground” is outsmarting our security experts!? Really?Read More