VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The top Vatican aide at the United Nations appealed for a just peace that would guarantee the security of the peoples of the Holy Land.
“Every year we come before this committee with an intervention, and I am sorry to say that every year our observations are the same,” Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican´s permanent observer at the United Nations, told a committee of the General Assembly on Monday. “Violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories continues to take innocent lives.”
“My delegation appeals to the international community to assist in bringing a just resolution to the differences between the peoples of the Holy Land, who are all cousins in the Abrahamic faith,” the prelate said.
Archbishop Martino said that “when normal conditions of life are not granted, the security of all is threatened.” He referred to “the incursions into the Christian towns of Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala,” carried out by the Israeli army in recent days.
In particular, the archbishop denounced the damage caused to the Pontifical University of Bethlehem, the Patriarchal Seminary, the Pontifical School for the Deaf, and Holy Family Hospital.
“Numerous houses in these towns have sustained damage from artillery and, as a result, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine has been making emergency grants to aid with repairs or for the relocation of the residents,” Archbishop Martino continued.
The Vatican´s permanent observer also noted, “Current levels of violence have caused pilgrims to stay away from the Holy Land, thus imposing severe economic penalties on all the people of the region.”
The picture of the region is very different from that of John Paul II´s “pilgrimage of hope” in March 2000 to “the birthplace of Christianity,” the archbishop said.
On that occasion the Pope stressed that, “for the door of peace to open, fundamental issues of truth and justice, of rights and responsibilities must be resolved,” Archbishop Martino commented.
Lastly, the archbishop called for a solution to the issue of Jerusalem, the holy city of Jews, Muslims and Christians.
“In light of the numerous incidents of violence and the rigors of imposed closures, the Holy See renews its consistent call for internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the holy places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities,” Archbishop Martino concluded.