Archbishop Fouad Twal of Jerusalem made this observation during an address to the city’s Orthodox community at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The gathering took place within the context of the annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, which is under way in Jerusalem through Thursday.
Patriarch Twal’s address welcomed both the representatives of the various Holy Land Churches, and the representatives of the Holy Land Coordination, which gathers bishops and Church leaders from episcopal conferences Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States for an annual meeting in the Holy Land a host of support initiatives.
The Latin Patriarch referred to the Oct. 31 attack in Baghdad’s Church of Our Lady of Salvation, in which 58 people were killed and another 75 wounded, and the Jan. 1 attack on the Orthodox Coptic Church of the Saints in Alexandria, Egypt, in which 21 were killed and more than 100 wounded.
“Beatitude, Excellencies and dear friends, our meeting here in this glorious patriarchate comes at a time when the entire world is becoming tragically aware of what it can mean to live as a witness to Christ in these lands,” Archbishop Twal said.
The patriarch asserted that these attacks make the decision to stay in turbulent lands “even more dramatic than ever.”
“Though the challenges that our people face here in the Holy Land are not exactly the same, yet these events struck our people as well,” he affirmed. “Now, more than ever, we see the truth of what the synod fathers wrote in their propositions to the Holy Father, that our calling to be bearers of peace, ‘means sharing the cross of Christ.'”
Patriarch Twal further cited the synod in affirming, “‘Amidst a world marked by division and extreme positions, we are called to live communion in the Church staying open to everyone.’ Clearly this is a calling beyond our human strength at times. It is only the grace of God present in our communion with him and between us that can help us embrace this mission as a precious gift.”