"Vengeance After Vengeance" in the Holy Land

Interview With Franciscan Custodian in Wake of Bus Attack

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JERUSALEM, AUG. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Tuesday’s suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem dealt a blow to the peace process and caused great distress among Christians in the Holy Land, a Church figure says.

Father Giovanni Battistelli, Custodian of the Holy Land, talked to Vatican Radio about the attack that left 20 dead, including six children.

Q: How do you feel about the news of the attack?

Father Battistelli: I feel great uneasiness. We held a meeting today with the heads of the Churches to understand the situation we are living through. This is a period of truce, but it is no more than a word, “truce,” because there is vengeance after vengeance, difficult situations, the wall that’s being built …

I always hope that we can transmit serenity to the world around us, but I see that the difficulties are enormous, as the resentment is enormous. The desire for vengeance is still present in individuals and groups.

Q: Nevertheless, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, has harshly condemned the attack and has distanced himself from the radical groups.

Father Battistelli: He certainly condemns them. He said he has interrupted the talks. But, what solution will there be if these talks don’t continue? They should be dialogue-talks, not only of words, but also of deeds, because we hear many words here, both from one side as well as the other. But they remain words.

Q: The attack in Jerusalem took place hours after the attack against the U.N. in Baghdad. Is there some sort of relation between these two types of terrorism?

Father Battistelli: The danger of this relation, which the greats talk about — Bush and others — might even exist. However, I think that here it is a reaction which affects specific circumstances of vengeance against vengeance.

Q: Therefore, in your opinion, can it be a reason for confusion to consider Palestinian terrorism as a “close relative” of Muslim terrorism in general?

Father Battistelli: I don’t say it is a reason for confusion. There certainly can be links, possibly aids, but, in my opinion, they are two points which are not strictly linked. There certainly is a universal terrorism which must be absolutely condemned. At the same time, it is also necessary to eliminate the causes that spark terrorism. We really need people of good will who will seek peace and justice.

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