DEAR FRIEND PRO TERRA SANCTA,
We reproduce below the words of Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land and President of ATS pro Terra Sancta, on the situation in Gaza.
We have received various requests to express our views on what is happening in Gaza. Honestly, we have not said anything until now, because one does not know what to state any more.
The ecclesiastical Institutions already update and express their views regarding the matter and therefore it does not seem necessary to repeat what others have already published, in the context of the usual rite of balanced and correct declarations.
In certain occasions, then, the usual exhortations inviting to the cessation of hostilities and calling for dialogue, even though they are very true and necessary, seem so cut off from reality as to seem hypocritical messages. On this useless bloodbath that is taking place for the umpteenth time, we must however make some considerations.
- Once again, violence, death and destruction are the common language in which we are finding ourselves. There is no sense in beginning to discuss on who has initiated the conflict, or to count the dead or to attribute the responsibility. We only know that no solution has been found and that it will only be a matter of time until everything will start all over again, in a kind of useless and vicious circle. Unfortunately a comprehensive solution seems still to be very far away.
- We hope that such violence will not degenerate in new attacks and other forms of retaliation, which will take us back in time. It is necessary that all those who are responsible will work hard to return to moderation and to control every form of dangerous deterioration of the situation.
- In front of so much violence and of the helplessness of all, for us believers, prayer remains the only resource. Prayer is as necessary as the air we breathe, because it permits us to look at what is happening around us with the eyes of faith. The believer should look at the world with the eyes of God who is a just and merciful Father. It is the only way not to fall into the logic of violence and refusal of the other, of which this umpteenth conflict is witness. In spite of all that which is occurring, we need to believe once again in the Other. Without God, everything becomes impossible.
- Our religious Communities should strive, once more, to play their part in the many small initiatives of dialogue and peace. They will not change the world in the Holy Land, but they will provide the oxygen which will make people realise that, in spite of everything, there are still many persons who refuse this logic and are ready to play their part in a serious and concrete way. It is, above all, the duty of the Institutions that work with young people, to whom our future is entrusted, to take initiatives in favour of dialogue.
- While in the Middle East historic transformations are taking place, it seems that, in the Holy Land, everything has remained unchanged. In the Holy Land, as well as in the rest of the Middle East, however, the Christian Communities are called to give witness, to transmit trust, and not to give space to helplessness. Jews, Muslims and Christians have been called, here, in this Land, by Providence, to live together. We want to show, with our life, that this vocation is possible and can be realised. And we are ready to start all over again with this certainty.
Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Custos of the Holy Land and President of ATS pro Terra Sancta