We, the members of the “Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land” deplore and condemn with utter dismay the repulsive attacks on our Lord Jesus Christ and on His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, carried out on Channel 10 of the Israeli television.
In these days, during a night show on Channel 10, a series of horrible offenses were launched against our faith and consequently against us, Christians. The show directed its attacks to the holiest figures of our Christian belief in an attempt, as the director of the show himself specifically declared, to destroy Christianism. In so doing, Channel 10 was used to desecrate the holiest figures of Christianism offending hundreds of thousands of Christian Israeli citizens and of many millions of Christians all over the world as well.
The Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land consider such programm a symptom of greater problems disturbing the society, such as intolerance, refusal to accept and respect the other and inherent hatred. More important, the Heads of Churches view this recent incident in the larger context of continuous attacks against Christians throughout Israel over the years. Only a few months ago, copies of the New Testament were publicly burnt in the yard of a synagogue in Or Yehuda. Since years, Christianity has been doing a lot to stop some manifestations of anti-semitism, and now Christians in Israel have to find themselves victimised by a low profile manifestation of anti-Christianism?
While condemning this and all other intolerant acts, we call on all concerned parties to investigate the matter and to take the necessary actions in order to put an end to such horrible desecration of our faith. It is unconceivable that such incidents have to occur in Israel which hosts some of the holiest shrines of Christianity and which rely to a great extent on pilgrimage from Christian Countries.
Therefore, we ask the Israeli people and its Authorities to take the appropriate measures against such unacceptable offense and its perpetrators. At the same time, we urge Channel 10 to acknowledge its responsibility and to officially and publicly apologise for this incident and never to allow its repetition.
We want also to express our understanding and appreciation to the deep reaction of our Christian Communities and Institutions as well as to the many reasonable representatives of Moslems and Jews who were themselves shocked and appalled and expressed their dismay and protest at this fact. Actually such programs have nothing to do with freedom of expression, art and entertainment. They can only work against national integration and harmony in our society.
We call on them all to exercise the utmost seriousness and restraint and to follow their Ecclesial Authorities in dealing with this very important and delicate matter.
Jerusalem, February 18, 2009.
His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Emeritus Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
His Excellency Elias Chacour, Greek Melkite Archbishop of Akka
His Excellency Paul Sayya, Maronite Archbishop of Haifa
His Excellency Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar / Israel
His Excellency Pierre Melki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
His Excellency Yousef Jules Zerey, Greek Melkite Patriarchal Exarch
His Excellency Butros Mouallem, Emeritus Greek Melkite Archbishop of Akka
His Excellency Kamal Bathish, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Latin Patriarch
Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Msgr. Rafael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
Fr. Paul Colin, Chaldean Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
Fr. Pietro Felet scj, Secretary General