The joy of the Risen in the midst of the trials of the Mideast, says Patriarch of Jerusalem

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, begins his Easter message by inviting Christians in the Holy Land to rejoice and live their lives to the fullest despite their present trials and tribulations because Christ has truly risen.

And Christians do face problems today, trials such as the incident in the Galilean village of Maghar where in February Druze residents attacked Catholics, and tribulations like the building of new Israeli settlements on Palestinian land which are but one of the many anti-peace measures Israel has taken.

Faced with situations like that of Maghar, "Christians [. . .] must surely find the means to survive, but without creating physical, psychological or sectarian or even political ghettos," Patriarch Sabbah writes.

"Christians," he tells the faithful, "must see in the commandment of love that Jesus Christ has given them a spiritual strength that helps them face their situation and find solutions, but without weakening or giving up their rights."

If "Jesus' Resurrection reminds us all that we need to resurrect to a new life," he writes, "relations between different communities and religions are [also] in need of a new life". What's more, "Christians, for their part, must realize that the way to the Resurrection is the cross."
For Patriarch Sabbah, politically, this is a time of relative tranquility, at least on the Palestinian side. We are, he says, "witnessing an express desire to reach peace, [a] desire for peace [that] must be encouraged and supported".

However, discordant voices can be heard. On the one hand, on the Palestinian side there are voices that are incapable of demanding their rights without recourse to violence. On the other, Palestinian hopes face insurmountable obstacles laid down by Israel: expanding Jewish settlements, Palestinian political prisoners 'forgotten' in Israeli prisons, besieged Palestinian cities that have become virtual prisons.

The Patriarch does acknowledge that "Israel's security is a priority", but so are "the security and the independence of a Palestinian State". 

The fate of the two peoples, he writes, is "interdependent. One cannot come about without the other."

The head of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land explains that "freedom must be the same for all, for the strong as well as for the weak". For him, conflicts can be resolved without applying the principle that might is right, which "runs contrary to the dignity of persons or nations."

Even though force can impose facts, he writes that "human dignity will [cry out] vengeance and remain a menace and a source of insecurity for the strong." 

That is why, it is time that Palestinians and Israelis "become convinced that neither party can live at the expense of the other."(LF)