“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

HCEF Honors Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal in Series of Washington Events

In early August, the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) will honor His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal with a series of events in the Washington, DC area. The occasion marks Patriach Twal’s first visit to the United States since his installment in Jerusalem on June 21, 2008.

In early August, the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) will honor His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal with a series of events in the Washington, DC area. The occasion marks Patriach Twal’s first visit to the United States since his installment in Jerusalem on June 21, 2008.

Events on Sunday, August 10, 2008, begin with a Mass celebrated by Patriarch Twal at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle at 10:00 AM in Washington, DC. The Mass is open to the general public, and HCEF encourages all to show their solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land by joining this exceptional gathering. To further ties of solidarity between Americans and Christians of the Holy Land, HCEF will also table handouts and displays from its world renowned Holy Land Gifts following the Mass at St. Matthew’s in the North Conference Room. The Holy Land Gifts collection features olive wood carvings and other artisan crafts from the Palestinian Christian tradition.

Also on Sunday, the HCEF will host an Ecumenical Welcome Luncheon with the Arab Christian Community at the Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Potomac, MD at 12:00 PM. The luncheon is co-sponsored by the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine, Washington DC Club, and the Birzeit Society, Washington Chapter. The luncheon is intended for the Arab Christian public, allowing them to show support for and connect with their Christian leader on this extraordinary occasion. HCEF welcomes the attendance of all Arab Christians in the area.

Saints Peter and Paul Church will also be holding its regular divine liturgy that day from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. All are welcome to attend.

Patriarch Twal continues his inaugural visit on Monday, August 11, in morning meetings with key leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Later that day, Patriarch Twal will join Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, for a luncheon co-hosted by Washington’s John Paul II Cultural Center, HCEF and the USCCB. Luncheon attendants will then adjourn to the Center’s Holy Land Arab Christians: Faith and Culture, an arts and crafts exhibit sponsored by HCEF.

The events will conclude on Tuesday, August 12, as Patriarch Twal convenes with local area organizations, and civic and religious leaders.

In announcing the series of events, HCEF President and CEO Sir Rateb Rabie said, "We are honored to host the Latin Patriarch, who carries such a powerful message of Christ’s hope in a troubled region. Through his word and example, Patriarch Twal illuminates a path toward understanding and reconciliation, demanding peace and dignity for the Arab Christians of the Holy Land."

As Patriarch of the largest Catholic sect in Israel and Palestine, Twal’s is among the most influential voices representing Holy Land Christians. According to Patriarch Twal, the directory of the Catholic Church of the Holy Land indicates that the different Churches together run 170 parishes, 118 schools serving 64,000 students from different religions, 15 homes for children and the disabled, 12 hospitals, 7 homes for elderly people and 15 charitable and humanitarian organizations. Of these, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem presides over 67 parishes, 42 schools with 20,000 students, and provides services in 10 hospitals. The HCEF, whose mission is to inform American Christians of the plight of Palestinian Christians, is among those organizations, as it has offices both in Bethlehem and the United States.

What gives rise to the need for groups like HCEF is the fragile situation of Arab Christians in the Holy Land. In 1948, Christians comprised about 18 percent of the area’s population. However, faced with military occupation and discrimination, Christians today comprise less than 2 percent of the Holy Land population. On the whole, Christians account for about 370,000 of the 17 million people living in Palestine, Israel and Jordan.

In his role as Archbishop, Twal has enlightened thousands of people around the world on the significance of the Holy Land’s beleaguered Christians. "My community is a demographically modest reality," Twal said in 2007. "However, it still has enormous influence and can help to shape the future of the Holy Land in general and of Jerusalem in particular."

Indeed, the decline of the Christian population in Jerusalem has been even more dramatic. In 1922, Christians numbered 51 percent of the city’s population. That number dwindled to 10 percent in 1978, and in 1990, only 4 percent of Jerusalem was Christian.

Commenting on this, Twal noted, "If God wanted us to live together in the Holy Land, surely it is not that we should make war, but rather that we should build the land and keep it holy – a place of prayer for all, Jews, Muslims and Christians."

Shortly before his installation as the Latin Patriarch, Archbishop Twal presided over the inauguration of HCEF’s Ecumenical Center for Research and Development in Bethlehem, calling it "a new beacon of hope for collaborative work among churches." He also praised HCEF’s efforts to promote solidarity among Christians and to educate Americans about the Arab-Christian reality.

Patriarch Twal was born in Madaba, Jordan, on October 23, 1940. He was ordained a priest in 1966 and then spent several years as part of the Holy See’s diplomatic corp. His tenure as a diplomat lasted from 1977 to 1992 and included stints at the apostolic nunciatures of Honduras, Germany and Peru. During this time he also served at the council for public affairs at the Vatican Secretariat of State. Fouad Twal became a bishop on July 22, 1992, when he was ordained as the Bishop of Tunis. On May 31, 1995, he was made archbishop of the same city. He received his appointment as coadjutor of Jerusalem on September 8, 2005 and was installed as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem last June, succeeding the Patriarch Michel Sabbah.

The general public is invited to celebrate Mass with Patriarch Twal at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC, at 10:00 AM. The HCEF’s Ecumenical Welcome Luncheon for Arab Christians begins at 12:00pm on Sunday, August 10, 2008 at the Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Church on 10620 River Road in Potomac, MD. The local Arab Christian community are encouraged to show their support by attending this luncheon.

 

For more information, please visit these helpful links:

 

Ecumenical Welcome Luncheon with the Arab Christian Community

Download the Flyer for the Arab Christian Luncheon Here

Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle

Download the Flyer for the Mass at St. Matthew’s Here

Archbishop Twal’s Inauguration of the HCEF Ecumenical Center in Bethlehem

A 2007 Statement by Archbishop Twal

"Holy Land Arab Christians: Faith and Culture" at the John Paul II Cultural Center

2016-10-24T07:28:03+00:00 July 24th, 2008|Categories: News|