“Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive?”  (Lk 24:5)

for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000

From Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and Heads of the Christian Communities
in Jerusalem
Our Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the Holy Land and the World

The last few months have been encouraging to us all in view of the
manifestations of solidarity from our Christian family. We inaugurated the
celebrations of the third millennium together on 4 December 1999 when the
Heads of all the traditional Churches in Jerusalem joined thousands of
people from our land and other parts of the world at Manger Square in
Bethlehem in a Common Celebration. This special event helped encourage large
numbers of pilgrims to travel to the Holy land in order to witness to Christ
and renew their faith in those places from where our Christian faith spread
forth to the whole world.

Shortly thereafter, we were richly blessed with the visit of many Heads of
Churches. In early January 2000, a great many of the Patriarchs and
Archbishops of the Greek Orthodox Church world-wide came to the Holy Land to
celebrate Christmas together in Bethlehem. Later that month, in mid-January,
the spiritual leader of the Armenian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Karekin
II, Catholicos of All Armenians, visited us as well.  And it was only a few
weeks ago that we welcomed in our midst His Holiness Pope John Paul II and
tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the world who accompanied him on
his spiritual pilgrimage to our land.

All these events have given witness to the life and presence of the local
Christian Church in our land and strengthened hope for our future despite
the arduous journey along the pathway of peace.

The reason for the Millennium is the anniversary of the birth of the Holy
Child in Bethlehem. Now, as we approach the commemoration of the Passion,
Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we have the
opportunity to focus attention on the basic tenets of our Christian faith.

We remember today St Paul affirming to us, “All I want is to know Christ and
to experience the power of his Resurrection, to share in his sufferings and
become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from
death to life” (Phil 3:10-11). The world might disappoint human beings. It
might disillusion them at times when it attempts to denigrate the eternal
values that Jesus exemplified to us throughout his ministry. But we are
called to be witnesses of the Risen Christ. We need to demonstrate our
commitment to Christ in clear and meaningful words.

Like Pontius Pilate in front of Jesus, many people ask today, “And what is
truth?” (Jn 18:38).  As witnesses to our faith, we have to spell out our
conviction that God’s truth is vital to our daily life.  Jesus said, “I am
the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).  By following the truth, we
must emphasise the importance of sincerity and the need for compassion
amongst human beings. As such, we ask all of you, clergy and laity alike,
individuals or organisations, to love one another, to understand each other
and to work together in order to preserve Jesus’ teachings and to uphold
those principles for which he gave his life. Then, we will indeed prove that
his death on the Cross was not in vain, nor was the power of his glorious
Resurrection diluted over the centuries.

All these events took place in the Holy City of Jerusalem which is at the
heart of our Holy Land. We hope that all religious and secular authorities
will work unstintingly to remove those obstacles that come in the way of a
comprehensive and just peace for our region.  And no matter how difficult
the times ahead, we encourage you to remain steeped in your faith so that
you can “have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ (Phil
3:9) and that you can truly proclaim Jesus’ statement to his disciples, “Be
brave, I have defeated the world!” (Jn 16:33).  Then, you can truly cry out
aloud in jubilation Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Hallelujah!

Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and Heads of the Christian Communities in

+ Diodoros I, Greek Orthodox Patriarch

+ Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch

+ Torkom II, Armenian Orthodox Patriarch

Fr Giovanni Batistelli, Custos of the Holy Land

+ Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop

+ Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar

+ Gabriel, Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop

+ Riah Abu El-Assal, Anglican Bishop

+ Mounib Younan, Lutheran Bishop

+ Lutfi Lahham, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Vicar

+ Boulos Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Vicar

+ Gregorios Boutros Abdul Ahhad, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Vicar

+ Andre Bedoghlian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Vicar