DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     December 23, 1999     vol. 10, no. 244

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Christmas Message of Peace and Hope for the World; Bethlehem Midnight Mass live on webcast

        JERUSALEM, DEC 22 (ZENIT).- Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem has written a Christmas message of peace and hope, founded on the presence of God with us in his Incarnation and Birth. The message was addressed to the faithful, citizens, governments of the countries of his diocese, and the whole world and was made public today.

        The Patriarch's message expresses love and fraternity toward the Arab world -- both Christian and Muslim, and peace for the Hebrew people, a peace that as "the fruit of justice, will produce tranquility and joy in all of us."

        He continued by affirming that only the Spirit can renew the face of the earth, the heart of humanity, and reestablish justice in relations among peoples and persons. "In this way, different religious extremisms will disappear among many believers and each one will come to understand that faith in God consists in love of him and of all his creatures."

        In light of the Jubilee, the Patriarch reviewed the situation in the region, beginning with the peace process, which has extended in the peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. With the birth of the State of Palestine, Patriarch Sabbah hopes "that it may enjoy its new sovereignty and full liberty," in a period of stability for all inhabitants, and an era of peace, security and tranquility especially for those of Bethlehem. The Patriarch believes that the key to the solution of Jerusalem's future lies in sharing and equality, both in the aspect of sovereignty as well as that of citizens' duties and rights. All believers -- Jews, Muslims and Christians, must be able to express themselves and be heard when the moment arrives to decide on the future of the Holy City. Christians and Muslims must face together the question of the Nazareth mosque, having a single vision and a single heart, helped in this by those who have the responsibility of public order in the city.

        On the occasion of the Jubilee, the Holy Father will make his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, "a visit of faith and prayer, and which all leaders of the Catholic Church in this land have so desired, in order that it be a blessing for all, a voice of the Spirit in our country, a message of peace for our peoples in search of peace; a meeting with all believers in God in this land that is God's," the Patriarch concluded.

        The Bethlehem Midnight Mass will be broadcast live via Internet this year, enabling persons unable to travel to the Holy Land to experience the celebration. Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah will celebrate the Mass in the Basilica of the Nativity. The webcast can be reached at http://www.al-bushra.org/ or http://www.bethlehem.org or http://www.jerusalem2000.org/ , and will be broadcast in RealPlayer format (RealPlayer is a free download, but is included with most newer Internet browsers). Midnight of December 24 in the Holy Land is 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, December 24 (10:00 p.m. GMT). The Al-Bushra site will keep the Mass online for later viewing for those who are unable to see it live. ZE99122208 and ZE99122220

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 23, 1999       volume 10, no. 244


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