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Sunday, September 25, 2016
Archbishop of Galilee at Westminster Cathedral
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¬†Archbishop Elias Chacour of Galilee made a passionate appeal on behalf of the Christians of the Holy Land during his homily at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday morning. Preaching at a Mass for the 60th anniversary of Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Chacour, pointed out that Jesus had come from Galilee and the Christians of Palestine today are direct descendants of the "very first people to hear the Good News of Jesus." "It was my forefathers who first heard him and were fascinated with what he had to say" he said. "I bring breaking news from the Middle East" he said, "not of violence and blood ... but news of the Empty Tomb. Back home in Palestine, we have an empty tomb. Because the man in that tomb has risen and he is Jesus Christ." "We are persevering with living in the Holy Land and we want you to know us. We want you to visit us. It is important to visit the holy shrines but it is much more important to visit the Living Stones ≠ the Christians of the Holy Land now." He said: "We have kept the faith for nearly 2,000 years. I have come here to beg you to give me something. Not money. Give money to a charity like Aid to the Church in Need. Give me your friendship... Come to visit us and you will be very welcome. Get to know us." At a press conference on Friday, Archbishop Shakour described the predicament of Christians in the Holy Land. He said: "We are seriously threatened with extinction." In 1948, when the state of Israel was formed, three quarters of the Christian population of the Holy Land fled or were deported, he explained. The remainder - "caught as second class citizens between the Jewish and Muslim population" and living in dire economic conditions, are emigrating in large numbers each year. In 1948, 60 per cent of the population of Bethlehem was Christian. That number is now less than ten per cent and falling. Jerusalem had more than 45,000 Christians in 1948. Now there are less than 7,000. While Archbishop Chacour appealed for Christians around the world to befriend his people, he said he did not want them to take sides with Christians against Jewish or Muslim people. "There has been enough cruelty on both sides between Palestians and Jews," he said. Although his own family lost their home when the state of Israel was formed, Archbishop Chacour has always sought peace and reconciliation between all the people of the Holy Land. Among his projects are the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, providing education from nursery to university level. The MEEI welcome Jewish, Muslim and Christian students. For more information see: http://www.meei.org/ To learn more about Aid to the Church in Need see: http://www.acn.org.uk
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