Holy Land Custodian Asks Christians to Sacrifice for Peace

Father Battistelli Sees Reasons for Hope

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ROME, FEB. 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The custodian of the Holy Land appealed to Christians to live this Lent in prayer and sacrifice for peace in the holy places.

«At the beginning of Lent, I wish to say that if we do not entrust ourselves to Providence, I´m afraid the war will last a long time,» Franciscan Father Giovanni Battistelli told the Italian SIR Catholic agency.

«In this period our faithful Christians are asked to have only one meal and to give what is saved to those who are in indigence, who are many,» he added. «I hope this sacrifice will open hearts to hope and peace.»

The custodian also hopes that, because of Easter, «pilgrims will return to the Holy Land. It would be the first step toward normalization.»

«What is happening in the Territories presages nothing good, although U.S. President George Bush´s statements, who has again opened to Yasser Arafat, allow for hope in the renewal of dialogue,» Father Battistelli said.

An important role in the diplomatic solution of the conflict «should also be played by the European Union, which can align itself with the U.S. and Russia in the determination to reopen a necessary dialogue for peace,» the custodian added.

«There is no lack of signs in Israeli society that give hope,» he continued. «Some 100 Israeli reservists have expressed their opposition to fighting in the Occupied Territories. There have also been manifestations of ordinary people who believe that repression is not the best solution.»

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