A Letter from Pope John Paul II to Jerusalem

Branch of Olive from Jerusalem
News, articles and documents from the Holy Land
“Peace will be the fruit of Justice and my people will dwell in the beauty of Peace”
Wednsday, 8 November 2000
 Dear Friends,
 I am very glad to send you today a very important letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, which was published today and addressed to His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, president of the Assemble of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, which means that this letter is addressed to all the catholic faithful. You will find also a short commentary of this document written by the Patriarch Himself. (N.B. French and Arabic speaking with receive the same documents in a separate e-mail each one according to his language).

Let me here introduce you the Assembly of catholic ordinaries in the Holy Land:
This Assembly is composed of the six catholic churches in the Holy Land, they meet twice a year for three days in order to discuss all the issues concerning their churches and common collaboration and work. The main project, which was realized by this Assembly, is the diocesan synod, which lasted more than five years and was concluded with the General Assembly of the Synod last 8-12 February 2000. The General Pastoral Plan wish was the Pope handed the result of the Synod to representatives of all the churches during the masses he celebrated in Amman, Bethlehem and Nazareth, during his late March visit to the Holy Land. This Pastoral Plan will be the program of our churches in the next 50 years.
If you don’t know who are these six churches and who are their heads, you will find it hereby for your knowledge and information:
+ H.B. Msgr. Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
+ Msgr. Selim Sayegh, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Amman for Jordan.
+ Msgr. Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Nazareth for Israel.
+ Msgr. Kamal Hanna Bathish, Latin Patriarchal General Vicar in Jerusalem.
+ Msgr. Boutos Muallem, Patriarchal Vicar of the Melkite Church in Haifa for Galilee.
+ Msgr. Lutfi Lahham, Patriarchal Vicar of the Melkite Church in Jerusalem for Palestine.
+ Msgr. George Al-Murr, Patriarchal Vicar of the Melkite Church in Amman for Jordan.
+ Msgr. Paul Sayyah, Patriarchal Vicar of the Maronites in Palestine, Israel and Jordan.
+ Msgr. André Bedoghlian, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Catholic Church.
+ Msgr. Grégoire Boutros Abdel-Ahad, Patriarchal Vicar of Syrian Catholic Church.
+ Rev. Fr. Paul Collin, Vicar general of the catholic Caldean church.
+ Rev. Fr. Giovanni Battistelli, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land.
The Apostolic Delegate for Palestine in Jerusalem and Nuncio for Israel in Jaffa, Msgr. Pietro Sambi meets normally with the members of they Assembly as a representative of the Vatican.

You will find also in today’s newsletter a very short reflection, but very strong, written by Fr. Stephane Joulian, a White Father living and working in Jerusalem, if have any answer to his many questions, don’t hesitate to write him.
You see that the support to our main cause is growing; even the Pope himself reacted, as you will see.
Thank you for your support, care and prayers.
                                                                                Fr. Raed Abusahlia

To His Beatitude Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

And President of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

            The trials being experienced at the present time by the peoples of the Holy Land are for me a source of great suffering, and I would like to express to everyone, without exception, my heartfelt solidarity.

The sudden transition from negotiation to confrontation undoubtedly represents a setback for peace, but no-one must give way to fatalism: the Israeli and Palestinian peoples are called by geography and history to live together.
The will only be able to do so in a peaceful and lasting way if all individuals see their fundamental rights guaranteed: both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are equally entitled to live in their own home in dignity and security.

Only a return to the negotiating table on an equal footing, with due respect for international law, is capable of disclosing a future of brotherhood and peace for those who live in this blessed land.

Recalling my pilgrimage to your region a few months ago, I think with emotion of all those places which speak to us of the history of God’s contact with man and which represent an appeal to work together to ensue that violence, hatred or suspicion will never again disfigure this part of the world.

I encourage you, the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, together with all the leaders of the Christian communities, to renew your efforts to ensure that relationships between all are inspired by mutual respect, in humility and trust.
I appeal likewise to those who have the task of guiding the followers of Judaism and Islam to draw from the wellspring of their beliefs all the energies needed so that the inner and outward peace to which the peoples aspire may become a reality
I invite the international community to continue its efforts to help both sides to devise solutions which will ensure the security and just tranquility which they desire, and which are the prerogatives of every nation and the preconditions of life and progress for every society.
Invoking upon all people of good will the favour of Almighty God, who will speak peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts (cf. Ps 85:9), with affection I impart to Your Beatitude and to your Brothers in the Episcopate, as also to all the faithful entrusted to your care and theirs, my Apostolic Blessing.

            From the Vatican, 6 November 2000

                                                                                                            John Paul II

Some comments on the Solidarity Letter sent by

His Holiness Pope John Paul II
to the Heads of the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land
on November 6, 2000
        His Holiness Pope John Paul II addressed us by a letter during the current difficult time in which we live. We thank him for his closeness to us by his feelings and for his solidarity, which were expressed in his letter. His Holiness did not wish to enter in the details of the Conflict, but highlighted the main principles that guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people by the following words mentioned in his letter:
He believes that negotiations are the only way to peace.
He added that these negotiations should be based “on an equal footing,” and not between a strong side and a weak one.
The negotiations must be based also on the International Legitimacy and the Peoples’ rights. His Holiness said: “they will only be able to do so in a peaceful and lasting way if all individuals see their fundamental rights guaranteed: both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are equally entitled to live in their own home in dignity and security.”
We say, together with His Holiness, that the concerned sides should go back to the negotiations. But, these negotiations should not be as it used to be. It must be more courageous and quick, aiming to reach the permanent solution to be based on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, which will be able to receive back its freedom, independence, self-determination and establishing it own state, with Jerusalem as its capital.
While His Holiness remembers his pilgrimage to our Churches and to the two peoples of this blessed Land, he calls upon all – the Catholic Bishops, their brothers in the Christian Churches, the spiritual leaders of Islam and Judaism as well as all those of good will – to work together “ to ensure that violence, hatred or suspicion will never again disfigure this part of the world,” and “to ensure that relationships between all are inspired by mutual respect,” so the hopeful peace will become a reality.
        We ask Almighty God to fulfill our requests: His peace, safety and calmness; and to spread this in the hearts of all, so each one will be come strong, in Him, to fulfill justice and peace, and each one will become a brother, and not enemy to his brother.

Declaration of the Pontifical Council for the Dialogue

In the last weeks the situation in Israel and in the Territories under the Palestinian Authority has deteriorated seriously. Tension has mounted, and conflict has resulted in a large number of victims.
We wish to express our solidarity with all who have lost members of their families, and with all those who continue to suffer.
We therefore appeal to the Jewish and Palestinian people to forego violence and to take up once again that dialogue which is the only way to true peace.
We reaffirm the importance of the Holy City of Jerusalem for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
There can be no exclusive claim to the city. Jerusalem belongs moreover to the spiritual patrimony of humanity. There must be free access to its Holy Places for all, and especially for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The current situation shows how important is education for peace. Religious leaders must be conscious of their responsibility in this matter. There must also be a constant striving to establish justice for all. Moreover, hatred and a spirit of revenge are never to be encouraged. On the contrary, a spirit of pardon and the willingness to bring about reconciliation are the only way forward to true peace for all.
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