Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Please pray for the Holy Land

The leaders of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem have expressed their "deep sorrow" for the renewed violence between the Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza, and have denounced the fighting which has so far claimed 360 lives.
In yesterday's statement, Jerusalem's thirteen Church leaders said they were following "with deep concern, regret, and shock" the war currently raging in the Gaza Strip "and the subsequent destruction, murder and bloodshed, especially at a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of love and peace."
The leaders, who include the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, and Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox Church, said the continuation of this violence "will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility - and thus continued confrontation between the two peoples."
They also called upon all officials of both parties to the conflict "to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy, and urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and non-violent means."
The leaders also appealed to the international community "to fulfill its responsibilities and intervene immediately" to stop the bloodshed, remove the causes of the violence, and finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To the Palestinian factions, the leaders asked them to end their divisions and settle their differences, using "all non-violent means" to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.
The statement ended by calling on all people to observe next Sunday as "a day for justice and peace in the land of peace."

In the meantime Catholic nuns living in Gaza (two shown in the photo above taken on 21 December) and who share the fate of the local people have made an appeal: "Pray intensely for Gaza. Right now they are bombing, I do not know if you can hear over the phone the aircraft noise above our heads," says the head of Gaza's school run by the Sisters of the Rosary. "Yesterday everywhere in Gaza was bombed and the situation is very serious. The shops are closed and you cannot buy food anywhere. We cannot move from our homes and we cannot go to church. The biggest problem is that we do not have electricity and at night we use candles to move around. Hospitals are in crisis because there are no more beds available. The situation is very bad. Even our school was damaged. Bombs have been exploding very nearby and the doors and windows have been destroyed. We ask you to pray for us."
"The bombing continued, even close to us, all night but fortunately not in our neighbourhood, we have escaped for now," says Sister Salima of the Little Sisters of Jesus. "Today a young bride aged twenty years came to us. We have known her since she was five. Last night a missile had hit her apartment and now she has nothing. There is a severe emergency: shortage of food, no bread, and water is a special problem. Its distribution is highly irregular, so everyone has to use it with caution. Amid these difficulties, the parish is doing everything it can to stay close to the people of Gaza. We ask you to seriously pray for us, because here we can not see a solution to the war."

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