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Thursday, December 8, 2016
Palestinians tell Catholic bishops of their suffering
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 A Catholic summit on the crisis in the Holy Land has heard first hand of the terrible suffering of the Palestinian people. Palestinian student George Tushyeh, 21, claimed today: "Israeli students do not care about our issues. They can do and go wherever they want. We are just asking for our rights. They consider us terrorists and don't treat us as human beings." The second and third days of the meeting of ten Catholic bishops' conferences, the Latin Patriarch and bishops of the Holy Land and two European bishops' groupings heard from a wide range of Palestinian voices. One Palestinian, Wasef Daher, said that the Israeli government's occupation of Palestinian land had "divided my nation into scattered ghettos and turned towns and villages into prisons". "Families cannot unite, Christians cannot reach their churches, Muslims cannot reach their mosques," he said. "We are not welcome, not accepted by anyone. Our only crime - to be Palestinians." A group of bishops were told of the problems created by the Israeli "security wall" by the Mayor of Bethlehem, Hanna Nasser. On Tuesday evening, the Bishops con-celebrated Mass in the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Christ. Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah presided. Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and Archbishop of Liverpool, gave the homily and said: "The Holy Spirit gathered us this evening in order to listen to him in this holy place and to listen to you, to your sufferings and to your prayers, asking for peace, justice and for an end to your trial which you bear with courage and hope to have back one day your freedom and dignity." The text of the Archbishop's homily follows: Why are we your guests, here with you in Bethlehem? We came from our different countries and Churches in the Catholic world for one reason: fidelity to the word of God. Always we must make the same prayer as the young boy Samuel: 'Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.' The word of God we receive this evening gives two reasons why it is good for us to be here. First of all, anyone who knows, loves, follows the Lord Jesus, loves the Holy places where God revealed Himself, and the people who surround faithfully these places with their faith and their prayers. Second, here, we listen to the voice of the Prophets of the Old Testament against injustices and oppression, as we here the song of the Angels proclaiming peace on earth. Therefore, here we say: Here in the Holy Land, violence and oppression cannot prevail for ever. We are determined to walk with you, whose land is this land, which is also the land of the Prophets, the Apostles and the saints. The Holy Spirit gathered us this evening in order to listen to him in this holy place and to listen to you, to your sufferings and to your prayers, asking for peace, justice and for an end to your trial which you bear with courage and hope to have back one day your freedom and dignity. We know Jesus of Nazareth, we know Him born in Bethlehem to be the Saviour of the world, to be a sign of contradiction for all evils in this land and in the world and a source of grace and blessing to all those who believe in justice, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. We listen to the word of God and we hear the Prophet say: here from Bethlehem, a little town, shall come the Prince of Peace. We are here to hear your story, not least your suffering, and learn how to sustain you. But we are also here to be blessed by you, made rich by you, and to find a new strength thanks to your strength in face of all kinds of challenges. In your sufferings and in your needs, always faithful to our Lord, we see the lowliness of our Lord. Today we were told in the Gospel we have read: he taught with authority. But he had no police force, no army, no weapons. His only power was mercy; his only force was forgiveness; his only weapon was patience. We, your guests, are here because we need you. You show us the way to a poor manger: you guard and keep a shepherd's field, the field of men of a hard, uncertain, lonely way of life. You long to visit, for the sake of all of us, the garden of his agony, Gethsemane; the hill of his death, Golgotha; his empty tomb in a garden nearby. In the words of a prayer dear to the Franciscan family: May God reward you, Mother Church of the Holy Land. Brothers and sisters in Bethlehem area, we are blessed in our communion with you. May God bless you with the justice and peace you long for. Source: CCS
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