To our brothers, sons and daughters, priests, religious, men and women, and all our faithful.
Brothers and sisters,
Peace upon you from God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Savior, and may the love of the Holy Spirit fill your hearts and minds. Amen.
We read in the Gospel of Saint Luke about some bloody incidents which took place in the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, as follows: "It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them: Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did" (Lk 13:1-3).
The lesson is clear: penitence will save from bloodshed. Penitence means to see God and all God's children; it means to imitate God in his love and justice in all relations between persons and peoples.
In light of this penitence, we see that the present events which we experience in these days, invite us to raise our prayers to God, and to ask him to enlighten the minds of those who are responsible of our government in this land, and to give also to us light and strength to know how to chose and to make our destiny as we want it to be, in this confused and troubled world, where good is mingled with evil, and in which justice is often lacking in our human society.
The painful and bloody events which we are living today, following the provocation of religious feelings in the Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Mosque) tells one thing: the Palestinian people claims for life and freedom. And they will have life and freedom, sooner or later. We hope it will be sooner than later. Because violence cannot be the guide of life in this Holy Land. Justice is the only guide and symbol. It is high time for every leader in this land to understand that. It is not in vain that the situation came suddenly to this explosion. Those young and old who are offering their lives are not doing it to aggress anybody: they are only defending their holy places, their freedom and their life. Blood today is crying to God claiming for justice and human dignity.
The only way of coming back to quite times is to go back to the peace talks, and to see how to go back to the situation which was prevailing before 1967. The way of quieting the situation is to understand that Holy Places cannot be touched, and cannot be subject of any bargaining. To dispose soldiers, military cars and even missiles will not bring tranquility and order, only justice will. And the way of justice was already open in the peace talks, and was on the point to reach its aim: it should be resumed. Enough bloodshed. The people should be given the right to live and to self-determination. The Palestinian State must be born and have stability which allows it reorganizing its own affairs, external and internal. The Holy City should be the city of reconciliation, after installing justice in it: Palestinian Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, as the West Jerusalem the capital of Israel. And above all that, it should remain the "holy city", and its holiness protected and respected by its own governors, and by the requirements which its sanctity imposes on the entire international community. We call upon our political leaders Palestinians and Israelis to continue their search of a just peace, and we call upon the international community to help both parties to reach what is just and right according to the international legitimacy. We hope that the leaders of this land, as well as the international community, will understand that: then every one will enjoy tranquility; all the region will have peace, security and tranquility, as no injustice will remain weighing upon the Palestinian people who has so far suffered so much.
Brothers and sisters, for that we pray, and we call upon you to pray and to contribute in reaching tranquil times, for the glory of God and of man in this land which God has blessed. We ask God Almighty to give you light and strength, and to give all the leaders in this land light and strength to do what is right and what is just. For all we pray, for Palestinians and Israelis, for Christians, Moslems and Jews, may God inspire justice and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of all. Amen..
Jerusalem, 2 October 2000.
+ Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem