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Westminster: Cardinal issues midnight SOS for Bethlehem

 The Archbishop of Westminster has pleaded in his Christmas homily for the town of Bethlehem, saying he deplores the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem and the current condition of the town of Christ's birth. He said Bethlehem was "corralled" and "blocked in" and its economy in shreds as result of Israeli security measures in response to terrorist violence. Speaking at his Midnight Mass homily at Westminster Cathedral just hours before leaving for Sri Lanka, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor described the people of the town as "terribly alone", and urged Christians to visit. He prayed that "the eyes and the hearts of the world be opened to what is happening there" and pleaded for a new strategy for peace. He said the Holy Land conflict had inflicted "a terrible wound on humanity" and urged the parties to the conflict to "bind that wound" and "build bridges, not walls." "Let Bethlehem be what it is meant to be: a free and open city," he urged. Reflecting on the Incarnation, the Cardinal said allowing the Nativity to take root in people's lives "is about becoming more deeply who we are". The 7 July bombers "did not know, or care, whom they killed", he said. But "from terror which sought to exterminate a faceless crowd, there arose people with names and stories." In their spirit of courage and compassion, he said, "is written the defeat of violence". To read the full text visit: www.rcdow.org.uk