Cites Exodus of Christians in Particular

JERUSALEM, SEPT. 30, 2002 ( The 2-year-old intifada — the Palestinian uprising against Israel, which was followed by military repression — has been a catastrophe for the Holy Land, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem said.

“Nothing good has come of it,” Patriarch Michel Sabbah said as he evaluated the confrontations which began in September 2000.

“There have been dead and victims on both sides,” he told Vatican Radio. “I hope that after these two years, political leaders — Israeli and Palestinian — will be able to understand and be convinced that this way of death is cruel and useless. … These two years will have been a useless parenthesis in the history of the conflict.”

According to Patriarch Sabbah, the violence has also caused an increase in the exodus of Catholics from the Holy Land, though Muslims and Jews have likewise been affected. “There is always someone who is leaving,” he said.

“Of course, given that Christians are few, their emigration causes a greater effect for Christian survival in these holy places,” the patriarch said. “The siege and the curfew, which make life impossible, forces many who can emigrate, to go.”

“This situation … obliges everyone to think of leaving the country, except the few who are really convinced they have a vocation to be Christians in this land and, thanks be to God, there are still persons like this,” he said.

“These people know that they must share the responsibility of the whole conflict, the exigency of freedom, of human dignity; therefore, they must share the difficulties, including death,” Patriarch Sabbah concluded.