JERUSALEM – His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, went Thursday, January 9, 2014 to the Orthodox Patriarchate to present his best wishes of a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, to his Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III. Please find below the speech which he delivered on this occasion.
January 9, 2013
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Your Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III
On the occasion of the Christmas Feast, according to the Julian calendar, and on behalf of all present, I express to the Greek Orthodox, the Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian sister-churches, our warmest greetings. Our wishes are in the same time ,a prayer for good health, peace, prosperity and pastoral success, in all your efforts during the New Year 2014.
The birth of Jesus has a strong message. Many fathers of the Church formulated it with this simple statement: God borrowed our human nature, in order to give us much more in exchange. He took our fragility, to make us participants to his divinity. He took our sinful nature to make us acquire his holiness. He became man to make us sons of God. The more we are aware of this privilege, the more we can be transformed ,and can help to transform the Holy Land and the Middle East around us.
The Middle East seems in long agony. Christians suffer in many countries, and could not celebrate and enjoy Christmas as we did here. We think in a special way of Syria, where the population is suffering the consequences of a long civil war. We think of the two kidnapped bishops, who do not give signs of life ,and of the nuns who are still hostages. They are in our prayers and thoughts.
Your Beatitude, I am happy and proud of the collaboration between our churches during this past year, because we enjoyed increased meetings and greater co-ordination. Allow me to praise your Beatitude, for your speech during our last gathering with President Peres ,and for the important message you delivered then. Though the Christian community here is relatively small, we know that when we are united, we express a more effective message to all. The more generous and courageous and fearless we are, in working together and in praying together, the more our faithful are assured and confident.
We know that the eyes of the world are on us and any misunderstanding between our communities is highly observed.
Soon we will share the Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity. Its theme is very provocative: “Has Christ been divided” (1 Cor 1:13). Responding to the question requires prayer and reflection on our responsibility towards God’s will and the irrevocable call for all Christians “that all may be one”. Christians are challenged, to prepare to receive the gift of unity through prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue. A divided Christian witness, convinces fewer and fewer people. There are no short cuts to unity. There is the path of sincere love, serving and suffering for the Church.
Happily, we welcome the news of the forthcoming visit to the Holy Land of His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Bartholomaios I, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch. In an ecumenical gesture, both Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios, will gather in prayer at the Holy Sepulchre surrounded by all of us. This graced moment, present a further invitation to fraternal charity and collaboration for all who are called to unity.
There is other good news to share. Our Lutheran brothers inaugurated a new church on the Jordan River. In the presence of many Bishops and high ranking civil authorities, we share in their joy and congratulate them for this achievement.
Beatitude, dear bishops and guests,
I convey to you all, our best wishes of joy and happiness ,and ask for you, many divine blessings. Amen.
Source: The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Website