“This is a critical time.Â It must be the beginning of a grassroots movement to support our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land,” said Fr. Drew Christiansen in his opening speech at the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s inaugural event Feb. 5.
“This is a critical time. It must be the beginning of a grassroots movement to support our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land,” said Fr. Drew Christiansen in his opening speech at the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s inaugural event Feb. 5.
He also shared the words of Yacoub, a Palestinian teenager, who sees no hope for his future. Take this message back to America, said Yacoub. Tell them ‘we are children without a future.”
HCEF, a nonprofit organization intent on maintaining a strong Christian presence in the Holy Land, received special guests Fr. Emil Salayta, General Director of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Palestine and Jordan. and Fr. Majdi Siryani, General Manager (if the Legal Department of the Latin Patriarchate, who spoke on the current conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“It is time to create a sign of hope on the ground,” said Fr. Salayta. “There is only despair and frustration, but we can make a difference.”
Fr. Salayta, who supervises 43 Latin Patriarchate schools, is seeking churches and organizations to adopt a school. He is on tour in the United States to educate Americans about the Continuous emigration of’ Christians from the Holy Land.
Legal advisor to Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah. Fr. Siryani, outlined the Holy See’s position on Jerusalem. “East Jerusalem is Occupied territory. and any alteration of its character is illegal.
“The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority should decide the future of Jerusalem together, respecting the principle’, of justice,” he Continued.
The former parish priest, who now has a doctorate in law horn the Pontificia Universitas Lateranesis in Rome, informed the audience that the Palestinian Christians are the original Christians and not converts of Christian missionaries.”
Describing the nonstop turbulence, Fr. Siryani outlined the economic conditions endured by both Muslim and Christian Palestinians. “The average worker earns three dollars per day. And since the signing of the Oslo accords, the GNP has fallen 22 percent amounting to an annual income of $1,700.”
Palestinian in exile George Khoury addressed the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land. “Christianity is dying in the Holy Land,” he Said. “And if we don’t do something, the Holy sites will become postcards.” Khoury, who arrived in the United States as a student in 196 1, recalled a speech by former secretary of state Dean Rusk, who, when asked what will happen in the Middle East, said. “The old ones will die and the young ones will forget.”
The HCEF has launched four projects to preserve the existence of the holy sites and Christians in the Holy Land. HCEF invites everyone interested in the mission of helping retain Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land to support the Foundation with a tax-deductible contribution. For more information, contact Rateb Rabie at 301-878-9222.
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