JERUSALEM – All the Christian Churches of the Holy Land met on Tuesday morning, May 7, 2013, to exchange traditional Easter wishes. The Orthodox celebrated Easter on May 5, according to the Julian calendar. For the record, the majority of Latin Catholics in the Diocese of the Holy Land also celebrated Easter on May 5, following a directive of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL).
His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, accompanied by his Patriarchal delegation went to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to share his Easter wishes with His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III. Present as well were representatives of other Christian Churches of the Holy Land (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox). Thereafter, all visited the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox. On May 8, the delegation will visit the Armenian Patriarchate. According to Bishop Shomali, “the exchange of wishes occurred in an atmosphere of great ecumenical cordiality.” At the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Latin Patriarch gave a speech expressing well wishes. The remarks (see attached) of the Patriarch centered on Easter as a source of light, explaining that the “light from the grave is the opposite of the night on the Mount of Olives, the darkness of the last hours of the passion and death of Jesus, and the night of the grave. After Jesus’ resurrection, life is stronger than death, good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, and truth is stronger than lies.” However, he added, “despite the Resurrection of Jesus and the lights He has made us, many people prefer darkness to light.”
“Enough violence! Enough bloodshed!”
This is how the Patriarch talked about two points that painfully drive the present events. First, the kidnapping in Syria of Bishop Boulos Yazigi, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Archbishop Gregorios Ibrahim Hanna, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskandaroun. Expressing his solidarity with the Orthodox Churches and the two hostages, Patriarch Twal called on the international community to intervene with force for the release of the two bishops and also to find a solution to the Syrian tragedy: “From Jerusalem, where light overcame the darkness, we call on all political leaders of the international community to work together for the release the two bishops and put an end to the tragedy of the Syrian people. Enough violence! Enough bloodshed!” Secondly, the Patriarch noted the inflexibility of Israeli police security measures during the Easter holidays. The Latin Patriarch asked that Christian pilgrims be more respected while, at the same time, recognizing public safety policy must be maintained: “Many pilgrims have suffered from being unable to reach the Old City, and, even if they reached Old City, they cannot enter the Holy Sepulchre. We must find ways to make the Old City more accessible and open.” In addition, a statement of the Christian Churches of the Holy Land will be published in the coming days to condemn the violence of some security guards. Specifically, in response to the events of Holy Saturday, where a Coptic Orthodox priest was beaten and a Syrian Orthodox priest manhandled even within the holy place.
By: Christophe Lafontaine