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“Peace will be the fruit of Justice and my people will dwell in the beauty of Peace”

Friday, 5 November 2000

Dear Friends,

These last two days we have undertake a round all over they country, not have a peaceful weekend away from our daily frenetic work, but His Beatitude the Patriarch Michel Sabbah wanted to visit his people.

In fact, after the Saturday morning mass with the Franciscan sisters of Mary in Jerusalem who celebrated the memory of the beatification of seven martyrs-sisters of their congregation who were beatificated by the Pope last month in Rome. These sisters were killed one century ago in China. In this occasion the Patriarch said that there are many ways of martyrdom: to die for the faith in God, to die for the national aspiration, but also what we are living of daily suffering in the Holy Land, and he concluded that death is not the last word, because afterwards we will have the glory of the resurrection.

Going to Nazareth through the Jordan Valley we passed from Jericho where we saw many destroyed houses, which were attacked, and the casino, which is closed. We had to stop at the entrance and at the exit of each city or village we entered because checkpoints are everywhere. Of course we could pass because we have diplomatic car and the Patriarch has a diplomatic Vatican Passport. This means, that each city is an island separated from the other cities, and freedom of movement between the cities is very difficult.

In Nazareth, we visited the families of the three martyrs who where killed last month during the confrontations inside Israel between the Israeli Arabs and Jews. Msgr. Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal vicar in Nazareth for Israel was with us and a delegation of all our priests in Galilee including the parish priest of Nazareth Fr. Maroun Younan. Deputy mayor of Nazareth Mr. Ali Sallam was our guide because he knows everybody. I can’t describe the emotions and the feelings during these visits of these families who appreciated this step of the Patriarch, all of them said that we felt that we are brothers and sisters and one family. Solidarity, collaboration, Unity, between all the people in Nazareth, Moslems and Christians. The Patriarch signed also a petition asking for an independent inquiry commission, to investigate all what happened in these last events as a whole and in Nazareth in particular.

Sunday morning we began very early by celebrating the mass with at the Carmelite convent in Nazareth. There are 16 sisters praying for us in the Holy Family Carmel, and another 9 new Polish young sisters who just came from Poland and preparing themselves to take over the Carmel of Bethlehem before next Christmas. You guess that the Patriarch asked them all to pray very hard for peace in the Holy Land, especially in these difficult days. He told them: “Your specific mission is to pray for peace”. I told you that we have a pacific army inside the walls of many convents all over they country who are dedicating a lot of time praying and working for peace. Do you want to join us in this very important field of battle?

Later on the Patriarch met the mayor of Nazareth Mr. Ramez Jarayseh, who is struggling to bring about stability in his city, which knew a very hard time during these last years. I think that the hometown of Jesus should know also a real peace. We are sure that this day is coming soon. Nazareth is a very beautiful city in the heart of Galilee and the Annunciation church is its heart, because it is town of the Holy Family.

You think that our round finished here?

No, we continued to Jenin (in the Palestinian Territories) and we visited our parish priest and sisters. We have in this big city of 70.000 inhabitants only around 50 Christian families. The parish priest left us and went to join all the religious leaders of this region in the manifestation which headed to the Red Cross to present the statement signed by them, that I sent you in my last newsletter.

Next step was my home-village, Zababdeh, it is very calm, not only because we are very pacific people but also because we are far away from the checkpoints, because our village in area A, under Palestinian Authority. I can say here, that if the soldiers evacuate and leave the surroundings of our villages and cities, nothing will happen, and everything will be calm. We are not against anybody, but we are against the occupation of our land.

Nablouse was our next destination at the afternoon of this day, of course we visited our two parish priests who are working in Nablouse and Rafidia, but also we visited the Governor Mr. Mahmoud Al-Aloul, whose 23 years old son (Jihad) died last month around the tomb of Joseph. We visited him to present to him and to his family our condolences. This was a great meeting because this man is very interesting, he told us that he is coming from a very big 4 Kms manifestation that he was leading through Nablouse until the Samaritan Temple which was hit last week during an attack against the nearby Fatah offices in the area. All they religious leaders, Muslims and Christians took part in this manifestation. I would like to stress here, that the Intifada is not only kids throwing stones or young men shooting against soldiers, but a whole movement of a whole nation asking for freedom and independence. This movement is expressed in many ways, which are not always mentioned in the media because journalist cannot always cover everything.

We knew that Nablouse district lost 25 martyrs inn these last weeks, 14 of them died around the tomb of Joseph before its evacuation (at that time, I was very sad because around this tomb 14 tombs of 14 young men were opened, and even if we can understand the anger of the people, they couldn’t control themselves). But thanks God the governor told us that they are finishing the restoration of the Tomb, which will be open as soon as possible. You can notice that most of the hot clash points are around religious places, such as the tomb of Rachel at the entrance of Bethlehem, Ibrahimic Mosques in Hebron, Al-Haram As-sharif in Jerusalem. Therefore, I see that these hot points should be handled in a very wise way in the future if we don’t want it to be reasons of bloodshed of further martyrs.

After, all this round, we couldn’t do more things but to return back to Jerusalem, passing through checkpoints and checkpoints.

I wanted to tell you all these details in order to show you that, our people is suffering everywhere, and our deepest concern is to reach the long-waited peace and stability in this part of the world in order to live peacefully like the other peoples of the world.