AMMAN – A week ago, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem participated in the international summit held in Amman on “The Challenges of Arab Christians.” Below is the address of His Beatitude Fouad Twal.
Your Excellencies the Bishops,
We thank Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II and His Royal Highness the Emir Ghazi bin Muhammad, for this unique and unprecedented initiative. The presence of a large number of religious leaders, Christians and Muslims, is very significant and is almost an immediate response to what is happening in our Middle East, in our challenges and difficulties, a matter of life or death for our people.
The suspension of the peace process in the Holy Land is a major impediment to the development of our society in general and the situation of Christians in particular. It is time to advance the solution to the Palestinian problem in a just and acceptable manner. Now, this is not possible except through joint and genuine efforts by the international community and the great powers, provided that their positions are reasonable and impartial. In the absence of a solution, we are at the mercy of the gusts of wind in the Holy Land, in the Middle East and throughout the world.
Instability affects everyone, but especially Christians, because we associate with one another in an atmosphere of fear that is affecting the entire society, while they themselves are victims of this situation of being Christians, as stated by HRH Emir Ghazi: “Let us remember that all events in the region have left a negative effect, and mostly in relation to Christians of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine. They feel targeted in a particular way, and this raises fear in their hearts, forcing them consider emigration, despite assurances from different sectors of society.”
In the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem, where the process of Judaization continues, as well as the construction of settlements, we regret to point out the pain, that our tragic situation is not a concern for the international community nor the Islamic Arab countries, since attention is now directed to the anguish of the conflict in Syria, or the problematic situation in Egypt. Speeches and promises are never enough, whether coming from the Arab, Islamic and Western sides. People who have lost confidence in these promises, dream of emigration to escape the situation they can no longer endure. More remorseful is the sale of homes and properties inherited from their ancestors to secure the process of emigration, of fleeing the country toward other horizons. The Arab East stripped of Christians is not the East that we know and love.
The old dialogue with its outmoded principles no longer suits the present situation. To use an approach based on the past, without touching the problems of modern times, is no longer acceptable. Listening to discourses in closed halls regarding tolerance, acceptance of others, without open and public declaration is not acceptable either. A Christian is the brother of the Muslim, and vice-versa. This is the message from the Amman conference, which should become a reality in the educational curricula, in religious discourses, as well as religious communication and media.
Many live the present through the past, because their past has become the dream of the future. The Treaty of Muawiya, the Pact of Omar, the verses of the Koran, all these are meaningless and do not help alleviate the restlessness in the hearts of many Christian and Muslim leaders. This concern prompted His Majesty King Abdullah II, “guardian of the Holy Land,” to this initiative, which we have well received and participate here today. We support the efforts of His Majesty to encourage our faithful, in a modest attempt to dispel fear from their hearts, to prevent future emigration of people and intellectuals, and to stir the conscience of world leaders and those who make decisions who have in their hands the destiny of their people. This is why our meeting here is important.
It is clear that the element of religion that unites us – Christians in the Middle East with the West cannot be an excuse for anyone to bind Christians of the East to the interests and policy of the West.
What unites us to Islam, with all that it holds to encourage fraternity, citing texts from the Gospel and the Koran, does not protect us against blind fanaticism among some extremist groups who know no mercy and do nothing to end the sufferings of Christians. Moreover, the silence of moderate Islam, without any influence on the course of events, places us in a state of panic.
However, it is up to us to deal with these extremist currents with courage and vision, by means of a clear and effective educational plan that highlights the positive aspects of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in order to allow the emergence of a new generation, in favor of openness and acceptance of others. . It is very important to create a public opinion against these currents, that isolates and restricts their influence and grip on society. In this context, the media plays a pioneering role . It is essential to adopt a work plan to confront this serious extremism, for the welfare of society in general and the security and stability of Christians in particular, in order to encourage them to contribute effectively toward a society free from marginalization.
For us religious leaders, Christians and Muslims, it is knowing how to support one another spiritually and socially in order to confront the wealth and influence of Western civilization, or its dangers, and the waves of violence and religious extremism.
A vision of huge amounts of money poured upon the altar of civil wars or worldly interests, invites us to ask ourselves the question to which there is no answer or reason for this enormous waste. Why not spend the money for Al-Quds, for institutions or building houses for our people? Why? Why? …
Despite the challenges, we will continue to live in hope. Our communities are able to take hold of their own destiny, and build a cohesive society, placing the common good as a priority. However, this does not happen spontaneously, but requires a systematic course of action at all levels.
My dear listeners,
Time passes quickly, in the end, the events also fall. We work for a better future for our children, a future where everyone feels secure with respect to his own person, his family, his property, his religion and his sanctuaries and places of worship.
+ Fouad Twal, Latin Paptriarch of Jerusalem
By: Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem