LONDON, Jan. 24, 01 ( - Latin Patriarch
Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem visited London this week to
address a forum on Christianity in the Holy Land.

"Violence in Jerusalem goes against the very nature and
vocation of this city. Although God created this city to be
the city of reconciliation, today it is a city of
non-reconciliation," said the Catholic Patriarch at the
seminar on "Christians in the Holy Land: Past, Present, and
Future Perspectives," being held at Westminster Cathedral

"Concretely the question of Jerusalem has a double aspect,
political and religious," the Patriarch explained, "The
political question is to be settled by both political
parties involved, Palestinians and Israelis, removing all
forms of oppression and occupation and on the basis on
international resolutions. At this level the East Jerusalem
of 1976 can be the capital of Palestine and West Jerusalem
the capital of Israel."

Once the political aspect of the conflict is settled, the
second aspect, the religious aspect is to be approached,
Patriarch Sabbah said. "Political authorities have to find
a special way which ensures all that is needed to keep the
holiness of the city, to respect and safeguard historical
and present-day religious and civil rights, to ensure
freedom of worship and freedom of access in all times of
peace or war. They should present this special regime to be
recognized by the international community, in order to
guarantee its stability."

Regarding Christians in Jerusalem, Patriarch Sabbah
recalled their right to freedom of worship, but also
"dignity of life, equal opportunities for all, equal rights
for every religion and every person to enjoy full freedom in
their own city. Christians do not ask for privileges, he
said, or special protection: they are citizens and
believers like the others. The only valid protection for
all, Jews, Muslims and Christians, will be to create just
laws which do not discriminate, because the nature of
Jerusalem and its divine vocation do not admit any sort of
discrimination or exclusivity."

The Patriarch concluded with a message of hope: "The
conflict will one day come to an end, but authentic
Christian life will always remain a struggle in order to
love and to build, to keep up the ecumenical spirit, to
work for constructive inter-faith dialogue and justice and

To read the full text of Patriarch Sabbah talk, please go to January 23 on the same page of Updates