Patriarch Michel Sabbah
“Faithful Witness”: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land
Edited by Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. and Dr. Saliba Sarsar
HCEF is honoring Patriarch Michel Sabbah by collecting his essential writings and pronouncements in one book. Each chapter of Faithful Witness: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land contains a theme covered during Sabbah’s 20-year tenure as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Following “Reading the Bible in the Land of the Bible,” these begin with God’s Grace and the Nativity and end with Lent and Jesus’ Resurrection. In between, Patriarch Sabbah addresses other important topics, including the role of the Church in the Holy Land, Jerusalem, ecumenism, Christian-Muslim dialogue, and Palestinian-Israeli relations.
As the selections make evident, Patriarch Sabbah’s vision is inclusive. It applies to all peoples, including Palestinians and Israelis. His vision is matched by his courage to extend himself and open dialogue with leaders who do not see life from the same “peace with justice” lens. His friendship and conversations with Palestinian and Israeli leaders have not reduced his objectivity, search for dialogue and truth, and calls for movement in peacemaking, peacebuilding, and reconciliation.
Born in 1933 in Nazareth and nominated Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1987, Sabbah has led the Church in the Holy Land as the Latin (Roman Catholic) Patriarch for 20 years. He has shepherded the Church through both tough and promising times, through two Palestinian intifadas (uprisings) and the bright years of 1993-2000 that Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and Israel and culminated in Pope John Paul II’s jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000.
In marking the book’s publication in 2009, established Christian, Muslim, and Christian personalities from around the world paid tribute to H.B. Sabbah. Among the many statements are the following:
“For 10 years I have been blest to be a member of a group of Bishops from across the world seeking to walk with our sisters and brothers, the Christians whose home is our Lord’s own land. I have been guided, inspired and deeply moved by witnessing the service to all the peoples of the Holy Land offered by Patriarch Michel Sabbah. his commitment to that justice for all which is the essential foundation for peace and security shines through all he has said, done and written.”—Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool.
“The quiet strength of Patriarch Sabbah’s deep commitment to a just peace in his beloved Holy Land is evident in this fine collection of his words. Bringing together the prophetic and the pastoral, he seeks truth, promotes justice, encourages dialogue and advocates passionately for nonviolence with the kind of leadership and clarity he brought to our Pax Christi movement.” — Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International
“Like the good shepherd, Patriarch Sabbah has expertly guided his flock through tough challenges in the Holy Land. As a faithfully committed servant leader, he has called upon his flock and the world to become seriously engaged in the transformation, healing, and empowerment of self and other in support of reconciliation, justice, and peace. He has done so with much humanity, religiousness, and spirituality, as well as with much clarity, foresight, and humility. His words and deeds deserve our full attention.” — Sr. Rose Marie Kujawa, CSSF, President, Madonna University
“This book is an important contribution to the literature on contemporary Palestinian society, Palestinian Christian life, and the struggle for normalcy under occupation. Its message of love, peace, and reconciliation should be heeded by people on all sides in the troubled Holy Land. Patriarch Sabbah’s commitment to peace and reconciliation is not only moral and spiritual, for Palestinians and Israelis, it is also a message of wise and practical counsel.” — Ziad J. Asali, MD, President, American Task Force on Palestine
“His Beatitude, Patriarch Michel Sabbah is a proud prince of the Catholic Church and a loyal son of his people. However, beyond these particular components of his identity, he is first and foremost a human being who manifests the Divine qualities of Compassion and Love for all God’s creatures. Having reached a number of milestones in his life, it is fitting that such tribute be paid to him together with expressing the prayer that God will preserve him in good health and spirit to continue to contribute in his own unique way to understanding, reconciliation, and peace, between both peoples and all Faiths for whom this land is dear.” — Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KCSG, Chairman, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) and International Director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee (AJC)
“Patriarch Michel Sabbah has been a powerful and inspiring force for peace, justice, and reconciliation in the Holy Land. His pastoral acumen in very complex circumstances aGenerals well as his constant call for charity and hope have been a great gift to the people he serves. Faithful Witness: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land provides a remarkable insight into his life and ministry as a vibrant and faithful disciple of Jesus.” – Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Spokane
“After having endured dismemberment, dispossession, and dispersal, the suffering Church of the Holy Land found its voice in Patriarch Michel Sabah. His is an authentic voice of this ancient community whose continuous presence in the land of Christ gives testimony to its faithfulness and perseverance. His eloquent calls for justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation are universal in their application and relevant to Christians everywhere.” — James J. Zogby, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Arab American Institute
Faithful Witness: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land is a testament to His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah’s personal integrity, his Job-like patience, and his highly skilled diplomacy in the affairs of church and state. There is also in him the warmth of a contagious generous personality, a sense of humor tinged with laughter, as well as a heart and eyes filled with tears in the face of tragedy so often experienced among those whom he saw as his own as a Good
Shepherd — be they Christian, Muslim or Jew.” — Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
“Michel Sabbah is a leader among leaders — spiritual, religious, and national. He speaks truth to power, and his impact is felt far beyond his flock. His words and actions express a genuine understanding of past and current realities in the Holy Land and project a much-desired future for all. He is and will remain an inspiration to us all as we continue to work for justice, reconciliation, and peace.”— Mary Rose Oakar, President, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
“A native son of the Holy Land and a relentless champion for peace and justice, Patriarch Sabbah writes with insight about the land he loves. It is one of life’s pleasures to meet with him and experience first-hand the integrity and leadership for which he is so widely known. This collection will be an important resource for all interested in Mideast reconciliation.” — Archbishop Vicken Aykazian is President of the National Council of Churches and an HCEF Advisory Board Member
“In an Orient that is totally disoriented, Patriarch Sabbah was constantly a rock of serenity, as well as a moral, spiritual, and political compass for our society.” — Afif Safieh, Palestinian Ambassador to the Russian Federation
“Patriarch Michel Sabbah has always been a man of God with a prophetic task: speaking out for justice, peace, and the witness of the Palestinian church. His prophetic role has gone beyond his church, where he challenges and advises, to help shape all of Arab Christianity and its identity.He has helped build and grow our Palestinian church that has been living and witnessing here for 2000 years…. I’m very thankful to have known and worked with Patriarch Sabbah. He is our Patriarch and has also been our teacher, our pastor, our counselor, our friend, our brother and even our prophet. For this reason, I say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” May God give you strength, health, and joy. We will treasure all you have done for us and with us!” — Bishop Munib Younan, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
“Patriarch Sabbah demonstrated throughout his tenure an inspiring courage and an unflenching dedication to the mission which he has undertaken. He has shunned all opportunism of compromise in order to enhance the chances of reconciliation. His book represents his record; his performance demonstrates the wealth of his legacy. Patriarch Sabbah has become part of a revival of the human conscience at a moment when the plight of the Palestinian people needs a sense of coherent direction; and their pain, individually and collectively, requires the healing role that the Patriarch as the servant of the Lord has provided.” — Dr. Clovis Maksoud, Director, Center for the Global South, American University
“My brother in Christ and my mentor, Patriarch Sabbah led with strong commitment, courage, and wisdom. His words and deeds, combining faith and reason, influenced an entire generation in our community and beyond, and will continue to be an inspiration for many years to come. May Almighty God bless him and guide all of us as we witness in the Holy Land.” — H. B. Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
“Over the years, I have come to know Patriarch Sabbah as a man of peace and genuine dialogue. His voice has been one for sanity and sensibility, for non-violence, and for a peaceful resolution
of the conflict for two nations—Israelis and Palestinians—and three religions which share Jerusalem—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. May he continue to go from strength to strength in his ministry of peace and reconciliation between the peoples of the region in the years ahead.” — Dr. Ron Kronish, Rabbi, Director, Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI)
“His Beatitude Michel Sabbah has worked tirelessly in the pursuit of an all-inclusive Christian ecumenism and promotion of dialogue and conciliation among Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Holy Land…. [H]e always applied a pragmatic wisdom and common sense approach to the resolution of the many problems that arose during his tenure. He impressed me and others with his capacity for hard work and his resolute in-depth study of any issue that he had to address. Not only will he be much missed, but he will be much talked about for generations to come.” — Claudette Habesch, Secretary General, Caritas Jerusalem
“This is the voice of a witness for the Church of Jerusalem and an inspiring pastor who pleads with his flock, their Jewish and Muslim neighbors, and all who will listen to be faithful to God, to embrace peace, to abandon violence in all forms, and to seek equitable treatment for all. Serving two decades as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the first Arab to head the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, Patriarch Sabbah is distinctively a teacher of the Gospel in the context of the daily experience of Christians living in the Holy Land.” — Dr. John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
“H.B. Patriarch Michel Sabbah… royal to his people’s cause, forward looking to their freedom, independence, and the creation of their state…infatuated with Jerusalem and its holy sites and in maintaining it as a symbol of purity so as to protect it as a spiritual center with its pluralism and holiness. I wish him happiness and a long life so that his eyes can witness the flags of peace fly over the beloved Jerusalem, the land of peace.” — Sheikh Tayseer Rajab al-Tamimi, Supreme Judge of Sharia Courts in Palestine
“Patriarch Sabbah’s clear vision is a source of inspiration, spiritual strength, and hope in the midst of a situation of conflict and despair.” — The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, Founder and Director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem.
H.B. Sabbah is a faithful witness. His life and ministry are a true inspiration.
Pub Date: October 27, 2008
Page Count: 208
Binding: Trade Paperback
Cover price: $24.95
Publisher: New City Press, 202 Cardinal Rd., Hyde Park NY 12538
Reserve your copy: special price $15:00 www.hcef.org