Israelis and Palestinians Urged to Do an Examination of Conscience

Nuncio Calls for a Break in the Cycle of Terrorism and Reprisals

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ROME, JUNE 7, 2002 ( The papal representative in the Holy Land urged Israelis and Palestinians toward an examination of conscience that could help break the region´s vicious circle of terrorism and reprisals.

«I condemn with my whole soul the acts of the suicide terrorists, but I must say that they are the expression of a people who have been left without doors or windows. They are signs of the desperation of a youth that sees no future,» said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio in Israel. He is also the apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine.

The archbishop make his statements after the Palestinian suicide car bomb attack that killed 17 on Wednesday. The Italian episcopal conference´s Religious Information Service published the statements.

«Peace will not be possible in the Holy Land if Israel does not withdraw from the Occupied Territories and if it does not consent to the creation of a Palestinian state,» the nuncio said. «Likewise, Israel´s right to exist within safe and recognized borders is undeniable.»

«Instead, at this time, reprisals are carried out on either side,» the archbishop added. «This way does not create a future. I believe in love, respect and help for these two peoples. There are mistakes and motives on both sides, but neither wishes to make an examination of conscience.»

«When I think of peace, the life of people, not something abstract, comes to mind,» he continued. «In order to forge a different future, what is needed is respect for life understood as something sacred, and respect for agreements concluded. We hope to be able to reach peace without having to wait for mountains of dead.»

«The Churches present in Israel represent only 2% of the population,» Archbishop Sambi added. «It is evident that only the solidarity of those acting in the Western world can give importance to the work that Christians can do in those territories.»

«Many today are knocking on the door of the Catholic Church,» he noted. «Above all, Jews coming from Russia. It is a pastoral opportunity we must not lose. Tomorrow they might represent Catholics of Jewish expression.»

Dialogue with Islam is possible but very difficult, he said. «However, it is a dialogue that willy-nilly must be carried forward.»

«In any case, one must keep in mind that the interreligious dialogue is a different question from relations between states at the political level,» the nuncio concluded.

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