Monday, September 14, 2009

ACN News - Patriarch’s plea on behalf of the Holy Land


Patriarch’s plea on behalf of the Holy Land

The most senior Catholic leader in the Middle East has said that the future of the Church in the Holy Land is now in doubt – unless fellow Christians around the world step up efforts to help them.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Patriarch Fouad Twal stressed that emigration had drastically reduced the numbers of Christians in both Israel and Palestine. The Patriarch said that the faithful in Jerusalem were expected to fall from 10,000 today to little more than 5,000 in 2016. He also said that in the Holy Land as a whole, Christians had declined from 10 percent to two percent within 60 years – although other evidence shows the decline to be even more severe.

Stressing that until now the Pope’s May pilgrimage to the Holy Land had brought no respite to the oppression of minorities, the Patriarch said that “ongoing discrimination within Israel threatens Christians and Muslims alike.” He continued, “From limiting movement and ignoring housing needs to taxation burdens and infringing on residency rights, Palestinian Christians do not know where to turn.”

He spoke out in particular against the wall erected by Israel around the West Bank. Patriarch Twal said that as well as hampering freedom of movement the wall “has enclosed many Palestinians in ghetto-like areas where access to work, medical care, schooling and other basic services have been badly affected.” He went on: “We have a new generation of Christians who cannot visit the Holy Places of their faith that are only a few kilometers from their place of residence.”

Patriarch Twal paid tribute to the work of ACN, which is supporting seminarians and religious Sisters in Bethlehem, families who make olive wood devotional items and initiatives promoting inter-faith cooperation. He said, “I would like to thank Aid to the Church in Need. We count on your love and your support. Without you, what is our future?”

The patriarch stressed the importance of five ‘P’s – prayer, pilgrimage, pressure (lobbying and other political activism), projects – all leading towards peace.

Speaking of the need to achieve a lasting settlement in the region, Patriarch Twal said, “If in 61 years we have not been able to find peace, this means that the methods we used were the wrong ones.”

He added, “It seems that politicians are more afraid of peace than of war and they prefer to manage the conflict rather than solve it.”

With picture of Patriarch Fouad Twal

Editor’s Notes:

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. Aid to the Church in Need

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