Patriarch Twal's Words to Pope at Interreligious Meeting

“We Do Not Have the Right to Despair … Or to Give Up”

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2011 ( Here is the text of the address by Archbishop Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, at Benedict XVI’s meeting today with the Israel Council of Religious Communities.

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Your Holiness,

It is with pleasure and honor that I conclude the interventions of my esteemed colleagues, Muslims and Jews.

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, his holy ones” (Psalm 85:9). “… peacemakers will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). 

The impressions made upon my mind and heart during our pilgrimage to Assisi two weeks ago are still very fresh. There we mingled with men and women from many religious communities, who made up a veritable representation of humanity in its entirety, and who responded to your appeal to join your Holiness, for a “day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world.” Holy Father, we feel you are the only one with the moral authority, capable of gathering together people from such a range of different confessions and faith.

We, the members of this Religious Council, are honored to be in your presence; we do not want this meeting to be merely a show. We earnestly renew our commitment to continuously promote justice, peace and respect for the dignity of every human being. In our work to address the difficulties and problems that beset our region and our people, we are acutely aware of our limitations as a Council. We do not pretend to be able to deal with and solve the problems on an international or even regional level. Yet as a Religious Council, we are aware of the power of faith and prayer, and our responsibility to do more for reconciliation among our local communities of Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians, making use of our solid, good relations and common sense. Though the problems we face are numerous, many resulting from a seemingly intractable conflict or a culture of violence — even so, as Members of this Religious Council, we do not have the right to despair, to be tired or to give up.

We come here today, to join our prayers with yours, uniting our efforts with those of all men and women of good will, to undertake concrete initiatives for justice and freedom for all our people. 

Building upon the commitments and proposals presented and assumed during your pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, and those made in Assisi, we desire to see our communities fully united in hope, and to make the dream of our faithful for justice, peace and reconciliation a reality.

We, Members of this Council, have an important role to play, in order that “through a conversion of the heart, in a spirit of prayer, respect, perseverance and love, far removed from any trace of mistrust, fear and prejudice,” (Synod for the Middle East, Proposition 28), we overcome these obstacles to peaceful coexistence. This can seem a very long way, but God who is our hope is not remote. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into the hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been give to us” (Romans 5:5).

As we continue to be “pilgrims of truth and pilgrims of peace,” we will be renewed through the grace of the Holy Spirit and sustained by our Lord’s promise. “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20).

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