BETHLEEM – During a ceremony held on Monday, January 17, 2022 at the Peace Center located at Manger Square, the Municipality of Bethlehem conferred the title of Honorary Citizen of Bethlehem on His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, Mgr Michel Sabbah.
This honour was conferred by Mr. Anton Salman, Mayor of the City of Bethlehem, in the presence of the members of the Municipal Council and the Governor of the Bethlehem area, Mr. Kamel Ahmed Hamid, who was representing the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. On this occasion, the Patriarch Emeritus was accompanied by Mgr Boulos Marcuzzo, Vicar General Emeritus of the Latin Patriarchate, Mgr Tomasz Grysa, the Councillor of the Apostolic Nuncio, Fr. Alfredo Pizzuto, Fr. Peter Bray, Vice-Chancellor of Bethlehem University, and many other ecclesiastical and civil leaders.
Elected Capital of Arab Capital of Culture Culture in 2020 but the year 2021 due to the pandemic, as part of the UNESCO World Capitals Programme, the city of Bethlehem wished to pay tribute to the first Latin Arab Patriarch (1987-2008), as a man of culture, defender of life and ardent supporter of unity.
Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah has always insisted on the importance of schools, and the transmission of knowledge and culture as an essential means for the peaceful development of peoples, in respect of their identity.
Deeply attached to the defence of the cultural and intangible heritage of this region so rich in history, he was also concerned about preserving the environment, its beauty and life in all its forms.
In this very city of Bethlehem, known throughout the world as the city where God joined us in our humanity, sending His Son to make us Brothers and Sisters, Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah was above all hailed as an ardent supporter of unity and brotherhood between the different communities that populate the Holy Land.
During the ceremony, excerpts from a documentary film by Lili Habbash and Mohamed Attar, entitled “The Patriarch of the People”, were screened.
At the end of his speech, the Mayor offered the Patriarch Emeritus a beautiful icon representing the Virgin Mary, written by George Lama, an artist from Bethlehem.
Following his speech, the Governor also presented Mgr Sabbah with a magnificent mosaic of the Basilica of the Nativity. Mrs Maha Saca, President of the Palestinian Heritage Center in Bethlehem, gave him a piece of decorative embroidery on behalf of the Center and the Palestinian population.
After a speech from Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Mgr Sabbah also gave a very impressive speech of thanks, a vibrant call for solidarity and peace in brotherly love, following the example of the citizens of Bethlehem.
At the end of the ceremony, many groups asked to be photographed with Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, a moving testimony of the attachment and recognition that the whole population continues to have for him.
By: Florence Budry/lpj.org