Letter from the Holy Land to those who celebrate Christmas

Letter Three

A STATEMENT OF THE PATRIARCHS, BISHOPS, CLERGY AND PEOPLE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM Signed by The Greek Orthodox Patriarch, The Latin Patriarch, The Armenian Patriarch, The Custos of the Holy Land, Coptic Archbishop, Syriac Archbishop, Ethiopian Archbishop, Anglican Bishop, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Vicar, Maronite Patriarchal Vicar, Lutheran Bishop and Catholic Syriac patriarchal Vicar

First Part

Our Dear Brothers and Sisters,

For the past few days we have been going through the way of the cross. Together we have experienced feelings of pain and bitterness as we lived through the events that have shaken Jerusalem and the whole of our country...

Our first response as Christians in the midst of crises is the response of prayer. We cry out to God to have mercy on all of us, and to grant wisdom to the leaders of all the peoples of his land so that they might make the right decisions that will put an end to bloodshed and lead us to a just peace. Peace and security in our country cannot prevail unless they are established on justice. We believe that God is the God of justice and righteousness. God does not accept oppression, but calls on all of us as members of one human family, Arabs and Jews, to make justice and to love righteousness. God does not accept the domination of the powerful or their arrogance. Our faith assures us that any effort by the governing authority to impose peace in our country, which is not established on justice and righteousness will lead to failure and disaster. We, therefore, urgently call on the Israeli government to pursue the peace process with all seriousness and to carry out all its obligations to our people. We urge the Israeli government to change its attitude and purify its motives. Peace cannot be imposed by the power of arms. Brutality will not lead to security. Stability cannot be established by way of injustice and the denial or rights. Justice must come first, and then peace will follow; a peace that will lead to security. We as Christians feel that the Israeli government's formula for peace is flawed. Its slogan is "security first and then peace." Such a formula casts justice aside and will never bring peace. As the prophet Isaiah has said "The effect of justice will be peace and the result of justice, quietness and security forever." (Isaiah 32:17).

Please help us as you are preparing yourself and your family for CHRISTMAS, to bring Justice and peace to the Land of Christmas, the Holy Land. We ask you to take concrete steps to assist in alleviating the situation. Inform your congregation. Write to the representatives of your Country and State and urge them to work for JUSTICE and PEACE in the Holy Land.