It is not without being deeply moved that I went back
to Jerusalem, a town so extraordinary, so fascinating, unique! Three religions
are found there, two peoples claim it as their own; it is formed by a mosaic
of communities and cultures. This is what contributes to its richness and
Endowed with mystery, is not Jerusalem called upon to manifest to the world
its ability to allow people to live together ? For the time being, this
symbolic town remains divided by invisible borders. In the conflict between
Israelis and Palestinians, it remains the major stake for negotiations.
Any kind of agreement between these two peoples will not be possible without
an agreement on the town. It is claimed passionately by the Israelis yet
it is part of the Palestinian heart.
When I went to Bethlehem, to Gaza, I witnessed how much daily life for the
Palestinians had become unbearable. Sealing off occupied territories prevents
them from going to work in Jerusalem. Sick people cannot be taken to hospital.
Students are unable to go to university. Crops and vegetables cannot be
delivered. Most of the population has been reduced to unemployment. This
has caused a drop in the standard of living.
I have met disheartened Israelis and Palestinians. The on-going colonization
only serves to further rouse passions. Human rights are downtrodden. Torture
is committed by both sides. Unjust situations never lead to peace.
The Church at Jerusalem remains "tiny" according to the Latin
Patriarch's words. It is a sign of contradiction, just like Jesus. There
is no true religious freedom. Christians who are Palestinians belong to
the arabic culture. But those who can, leave the Holy Land.
I have been told by different people that the Christian Churches in Europe
are too shy when it comes to speaking out about this predicament. It would
be welcomed if they would say something about Jerusalem and the position
of the Christians there. This is for peace'sake, above all.