Latin Patriarch: Still No Peace on Earth

Reports Signs of Hope, Record Number of Pilgrims

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 22, 2009 ( The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem is observing that although peace has not yet come to the Holy Land, there are many signs of hope for the people there.

Archbishop Fouad Twal affirmed this in a Christmas message that was published today, in which he wished peace to “all the inhabitants of this Holy Land: Palestinians and Israelis, Christians, Muslims, Jews and Druses.”

“Our dreams for a reconciled Holy Land seem to be utopia,” he said.

The prelate explained: “Despite the praiseworthy efforts of politicians and men of good will to find a solution to the ongoing conflict, all of us, Palestinians and Israelis, have all failed in achieving peace. The reality contradicts our dreams.”

“Our hope is still alive,” he said. “In the Holy Land, everything is not desperate.”

Among the signs of hope, the archbishop mentioned a greater “freedom of movement for Palestinians” due to the removal of over 50 checkpoints by the Israeli military, and an improved economic situation.

As well, he said, “Palestinians are more and more expressing resistance in a nonviolent fashion.”

International support

Archbishop Twal underlined the hope brought by the “generosity of the international community.”

He also reported that Benedict XVI’s May visit to the region uplifted the people, and they “continue to gather fruit from his visit.”

The prelate stated that the “massive arrival of pilgrims” has been a positive sign for the Holy Land, and that “2009 will be equal to the year 2000, which was a record in the history of pilgrimages, with 2,700,000 pilgrims.”

He acknowledged the hope brought by the construction of a new pediatric hospital in Bethlehem, Madaba University in Jordan, and a housing project in Jerusalem.

“The best gift we seek, above money and wealth, is peace,” the archbishop affirmed. “It is the wish of all the inhabitants of this land: Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

He concluded: “Peace is a gift of God for men of good will. We have to deserve it.”

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