DAILY CATHOLIC THURS-FRI-SAT: EASTER TRIDUUM April 1-3, 1999 vol. 10, no. 64
NEWS & VIEWS
LATIN PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM: "WE HOPE TO SEE THE POPE AMONG US" AS HE RELEASES HIS EASTER MESSAGE
ROME, 31 (NE) "The pilgrimage of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, of which so much was said in these days, remains a hope for all the Churches… we hope to see the Pope among us," said the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, on his message for Easter celebration. Even though the Pope's trip has not yet been defined, the Patriarch expressed his hope on a future Holy Father's visit to Holy Land. "He will come, he will pray, he will convey to us a word of justice, truth and reconciliation," he said.
In his message issued for Easter, Patriarch Sabbah emphasized that the message of this year's Easter is "related to the immediate preparations for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000: it bears the main significance of the Jubilee, the significance of forgiveness, renewal, conversion, return to God." The Patriarch also urged the faithful to welcome the "Spirit of God, the spirit of justice, reconciliation and love."
"Easter," he said, "is a message of hope for Jerusalem and all the Church of Jerusalem where Jesus is risen, and where we, Christians of this land, are called to witness to the Lord Jesus in our difficult times in these days. To all our faithful in all parts of our dioceses, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus, I wish a happy and Holy Easter. May it be a source of conversion and hence a true resurrection in the heart of each of us," concluded the Patriarch.
The following is the Easter Message of Michel Sabbah, the Latin Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem. This message is made available to CWN readers through the courtesy of the Al-Bushra web site (http;/www.al- bushra.org)
1. Christ is risen. Indeed he is risen. Let us rejoice and praise the Lord of glory.
The message of Easter is the message of the Risen Lord, of his triumph over sin and death. It is a permanent message of hope for Christians and for humankind "On the third day God raised him to life. We are his witnesses. It is to him that all prophets bear this witness." (Acts 10: 40-43)
Easter is a message of hope for Jerusalem and all the Church for Jerusalem where Jesus is risen, and where we, Christians of this land, are called to witness to the Lord Jesus in our difficult times in these days.
2. A message for the Christian society, but also for all our societies, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli, in quest of peace among fears, hesitations and various forms of oppression or injustices. A message which says that triumph over all forms of sin and death, over all sources of anxiety and worry is also possible in our days.
Jerusalem, and all the Holy Land, is always waiting for a true resurrection of all its inhabitants, a resurrection with which we can see God on this land, which fill us with the Spirit of God, the spirit of justice, reconciliation and love. Peace and justice remain a worry for all of us. Can the coming elections give leaders strong enough, wise enough, open enough to guarantee security to the Israelis and complete freedom and independence to the Palestinians? Could they guarantee to both of them equal dignity? Will we be able one day to see the face of God in each face, Israeli or Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, or Jew?
3. A serious source of worry for us is the dwindling number of Christians in Jerusalem, arising not only from emigration, but rather from a forced emigration: it is an unjust law which decrees the withdrawal of Identity Cards from Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who are or were away from Jerusalem for any reason, jobs or housing difficulties, and so depriving them from their right to return to their city. The number of Christian in Jerusalem is already scarce around the Holy places.With this measure it becomes scarcer.
Another reason of worry in these days is the critical situation between Muslims and Christians in Nazareth, a main holy place for Christians and a main center for the celebrations of the year 2000. The grave situation arises from the fact that the electoral campaign is feeding this tension for electoral interests. Therefore we say, that the future of Nazareth, its stability and peace among all its inhabitants, can not be made victim of any electoral interests.
4. The message of Easter in this year relates to the immediate preparations for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000. It bears the main significance of the Jubilee, the significance of forgiveness, renewal, conversion, return to God. Liberation on all aspects will be the result of this spiritual conversion.
The pilgrimage of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, of which so much was said in these days, remains a hope for all the churches. Until now Rome has taken no decision. However we hope to see the Pope among us. He will come, he will pray, he will convey to us a word of justice, truth and reconciliation. We hope of course that such pilgrimage will not be made victim of political interpretations and conflicts.
5. Our message is a prayer for all, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Muslims have celebrated in these days the feast of the Sacrifice, Id Al-Adha; Jews will celebrate the Pesach, memory of their liberation by God from slavery; we, Christians, celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray God to empower in our spirits his Spirit of justice, and reconciliation. We pray him to inspire all religious leaders a just vision of his glory which consists in the glory and love of all his creatures. Holy Scripture says : "He is the peace between us... he has broken down the barrier which used to keep us apart.. His purpose in this was, by restoring peace, to create a New Man… in his own body he killed the hostility." (Eph 2: 14. 16)
6. To all our faithful in all parts of our dioceses, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus, I wish a happy and Holy Easter. May it be a source of conversion and hence a true resurrection in the heart of each of us.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Let us rejoice and praise the Risen Lord.
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NEWS & VIEWS