Patriarch Calls Christians in Holy Land to Solidarity

Lenten Message From Church Leader in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, MARCH 7, 2006 ( At this time of political transition in the Holy Land, Lent calls its Christians toward solidarity with the region’s needy, says the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem.

Patriarch Michel Sabbah dedicated his Lenten message to this theme, inspired by Benedict XVI’s similar letter in which the Pope affirms: “God does not allow darkness to prevail.”

“There is a divine limit to evil — mercy,” reminds the patriarch, quoting both Benedict XVI and John Paul II. “With mercy, comes the capacity to love and do the good that God has placed in each of our hearts.”

Patriarch Sabbah states that “our situation here, in Jerusalem, and in the whole region” is characterized by “fears, anxiety, insecurity and the search for justice, peace and reconciliation which continues to be a distant mirage.”

“The Palestinian elections have made new forces emerge, which take up the reins of our destiny,” he observes. “We await the Israeli elections to see in whose hands our fate will be.”

“In the face of all this, Lent tells us that walking in the presence of God, we walk with all men, whoever they are,” the patriarch notes.

“In everyone’s face we see the image of God and share joys and sufferings and continue to build our society, becoming ever more aware of the capacity for good and evil that God has given us,” he states. “For this reason, a Christian must not be discouraged or be afraid.”

Capacity to give

The patriarch adds that “in this situation there are many poor among us, poor that the present situation has deprived of freedom and sufficient means for daily life.”

The Lenten message points out that “it is true that we are a poor Church that receives, but we must also remember that we have the capacity to love and, therefore, to give.”

The patriarch mentioned Caritas-Jerusalem as an example of an organization that receives aid from outside. He suggests that it become “the Caritas of a Church of Jerusalem … able to organize the work of charity of one’s brothers, rich and poor, to make them able to give.”

“There must be a reeducation that teaches Christians in the Holy Land to know how to live — even when in need and in poverty — the richness of the communion of the first Church of Jerusalem,” he urges.

“It is necessary,” the patriarch continues, “that each one come out of his individualism, that he overcome points of view limited to himself, his family, his neighbors, to embrace the whole parish and, beyond that, the whole society.

“Those among us who say they give alms, must go beyond this level and learn to give more, to live in communion, to ‘grow’ with all brothers and sisters, so that no one in the community remains in need of material things, or in solitude or discriminated against.”

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