What Christians in Holy Land Are Armed With

Auxiliary Bishop Marcuzzo of Jerusalem Surveys Scene

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JERUSALEM, FEB. 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A bishop of Jerusalem says that Christians, as bearers of values such as justice, peace, dignity and human rights, can make a key contribution to solving the Mideast conflict.

Christians’ weapons are those of «negotiation, patience and bridge-building,» said Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, in a statement to ZENIT.
<br> The Italian-born prelate has been in the Holy Land for 44 years. He was ordained bishop 11 years ago and has been patriarchal vicar of the Latin Church in Israel for the past decade.

Although designated as such in newspapers, he is not bishop of Nazareth, but a bishop who lives in Nazareth, since most Christians in the region live in that area.

The prelate said that there has always been a Christian community there, «a thread that runs through everything, incarnated in the culture and local society, through the ups and downs of political and ecclesial powers and jurisdictions.»

«Today Christians in the Holy Land regard themselves as heirs of the first Christian community, something that cannot be understood if one does not keep in mind this transmission of the teachings of Christ from one generation to the other, from one people to another, between one regime and another,» the auxiliary bishop said.

The first Christians in the main were Jews, while the present community is Arab-Palestinian, but this does not mean that the latter «do not consider themselves descendants of the first Christian community, in the thread of faith,» he noted.

That the Christian community is surrounded by a Muslim majority, under the political jurisdiction of Israel, is «a new historical, cultural and social experience,» for which there is no «model or experience of reference,» said Bishop Marcuzzo.

«We must mark out our path,» he said. «The Christian community lives a twofold minority condition, in the Arab community and in Israel. Consider a person who is Arab, Christian and a citizen of Israel. To be these three things at the same time is difficult; it is a challenge that we have addressed in our diocesan synod.

«During the synod we said that we should recover the original land of our identity, that is, the Mother Church, the Church of the Apostles, the Church of the Holy Sites, the Church of the Gospel; we have rediscovered there a fertile terrain, not tainted by history.»

He added: «By vocation, we chose to be the Church in the Holy Land and to stay here.»

The Diocesan Synod of the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land closed in February 2000 with the holding of an assembly that gave origin to the General Pastoral Plan.

The plan was the result of a process of several years involving the Latin, Greek-Catholic (Melkite), Syro-Catholic, Maronite, Armenian-Catholic and Chaldean Churches, and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

The plan is entitled «Faithful to Christ, Co-responsible in the Church, Witnesses in Society.»

Bishop Marcuzzo said that there are difficulties in relations with Muslims, but the problems are not «insurmountable.»

The General Pastoral Plan may be requested from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem at media@lpj.org or from the Vicariate of Nazareth at latinvic@actcom.com.

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