02/08/2005, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
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Fasting as jihad for Sharon and Abbas, says Patriarch Sabbah

Mgr Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, releases to the public his message for Lent.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – According to his Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Lent, which begins tomorrow, is the true 'jihad', the struggle to which we must truly commit ourselves through prayers, alms giving and especially fasting.

In his Lent message released today in Jerusalem, the Patriarch said that "since inner life is a struggle, [we must fast] to become free people capable to live according to the Spirit and to do the good we set out to do".

Fasting and alms giving, Patriarch Sabbah adds, bring us "closer to the victims of recent earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia and Africa" and to "the victims of incurable diseases".

In a clear reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Patriarch evenly criticised Israeli occupation and Palestinian terrorism.

"With Lent", he said, "we join the victims of the injustice that man imposes upon his brothers and sisters in the name of the national interest or in the name of the pure violence that is seen as the only way towards peace".

Some "signs of hope", Patriarch Sabbah says, "are visible as talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority start again".

"In our Holy Land, there is a new wind of justice and reason, one that [includes] an effort by the international community".

For this, he gives "thanks to God" and calls upon Him "to back the leaders in their new vision".

Leaders must bear the most demanding burden and "fasting," he explains, "must cleanse the intentions of those who hold power of their personal or national selfishness".

Only fasting at Lent can "make leaders realise that they are but delegates who serve and protect. [Only Lent] can make them understand that God created and loves every human being and every people without distinctions, that people and nations are not divided into two camps—the good guys and the bad guys, the strong and the weak.

Fasting, Patriarch Sabbah concludes, allows us to see God "in every brother and sister beyond any religious, national or geographic difference [that might divide us]."

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