05/13/2009, 00.00
VATICAN – PALESTINE

Pope shows courage against being used, Palestinian leader says

Bernard Sabella, a Catholic lawmaker for Fatah, says the Pope is forcing everyone to accept the fact that he came as pilgrim of peace. This trip to the Holy Land is a spur the international community to work for peace. The Holy See confirms that the Middle East and its Christian communities are at the top of its agenda.
Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – “We must thank the Pope for being so resolute in his decision to make this trip and resist so many pressures against it at such a difficult time,” said Bernard Sabella, a Palestinian Catholic and Fatah lawmaker, as he spoke about the success of the Pontiff’s visit to the Holy Land. 

Ever since the visit was announced and until a few days before it actually began Christians in the Holy Land could not hide their concern that the Pope’s actions and words might be used for someone else’s ends.

“Every stakeholder wants to read into the Pope’s words a sign that suffering is at an end,” Sabella said. “Each side has its own demands. For Palestinian Christians an end to suffering means no more occupation, wall, checkpoints, visas denied to priests, i.e. matters that Arab Christians wanted the Pope to understand by their presence.”

For the Fatah lawmaker, “the Pope repeatedly said that he was coming to venerate the holy sites, as a pilgrim praying for everyone. And in so doing he is actually forcing everyone to accept his intent.”

Sabella also noted an ‘unexpected feeling” that developed between Benedict XVI and Palestinian Christians.

“Coming as a man of faith and prayer the Pope said: ‘I bring you this faith and creed.’ For Christians this means that they should stay put, remain in their society, living side by side with Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, which is also what they want, namely peace and reconciliation. And [by his visit] the Pope comforted their view in this.”

As for the political implications of the trip, the Pope’s appeal to the international community is important according to Sabella.

“The Pope delivered his message of peace to those who have the political mandate to put it into practice. By making such a trip he is sending an important signal that heartens Christians, namely that world leaders ought to know that the situation in the Middle East, in the Holy Land in particular and its Christian communities, is at the top of the Holy See’s agenda.”

In the end for Sabella peace is the only way out.

“Without a solution to the conflict it is impossible to remain; this is the case not only for Christians but also for all Palestinians. Political stability works for everyone—it is the first step towards the reconciliation everyone is hoping for. Never the less, we shall have to do the work it with a lot of patience.”

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