The Christians of East Jerusalem have sent a message to Honorable Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine,urging support to protect their presence in Jerusalem where Lord Jesus lived, died and was resurrected.
Following is the text of the message:
Our presence in Jerusalem has been a legacy since the resurrection.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and we shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended. (Matthew 24: 9-10)
The Palestinian Christian community in occupied Jerusalem, represented by its community- based organizations and individuals, are seeking your support to protect our presence in the very city where our Lord Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected. On the eve of the visit to Jerusalem by His Holiness Pope Francis I and his meeting with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, we seek our legitimate right to greet our spiritual leaders.
We are aware that the Holy Mass will be held in Bethlehem for the Palestinian faithful, yet we believe that as the indigenous Jerusalem population and descendants of the first Christians, meeting our Fathers will be hindered in Jerusalem. We see attempts by the Israeli occupation to impose a curfew on the streets including the Christian quarter during the visit. The curfew is yet another attempt by the occupying power to deny our existence. It is unacceptable for the Pope to pass along the narrow streets of the Christian Quarter, yet find devoid of any signs of life and the faithful.
According to international law, East Jerusalem is an occupied city, and we, as the local Church communities, are the hosts of the Holy Fathers in our city. We do not want to be excluded from a historic religious event, and want to offer our good will and cooperation towards the visit’s success.
The local faithful of Jerusalem have every right to practice their faith freely, to welcome the Holy Father, and to pray together. In fact, we started making our preparations and we are confident that with God’s help and your support, we will celebrate joyfully together in Jerusalem.
With this we bring to Your kind attention our concerns and entrust You as Local Church leaders to make sure this historic opportunity is not missed or made impossible by the Israeli Authorities.''
With love and all respect,
The Christian community of occupied East Jerusalem