Christians to keep hope alive in disputed Jerusalem

The Justice and Peace Committee looks at the uncertain future of Jerusalem, the much-disputed Holy City. “Unilateral moves” make a “just peace” more difficult. For Bishop Marcuzzo, it is crucial "to keep Christians” in the city and "strengthen their roots". The Church’s social and pastoral work can “prevent emigration”.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Justice and Peace Committee of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land yesterday released a statement on ‘Being a Palestinian in Jerusalem in 2020’.

In it, the Committee stresses that Jerusalem is both a "Holy City" and a place of “daily life”. These “two dimensions are inseparable”. However, “uncertainty about the future of Jerusalem has recently deepened” because of initiatives backed by the United States and Israel, namely the so-called deal of the century.

President Donald Trump’s peace plan has been praised by Israelis but rejected by Palestinians and the Church of the Holy Land. Such “unilateral moves render any just peace even more difficult to imagine,” the Committee’s statement reads.

The latter notes that the Holy See claims a "special status" for the Holy City, so that “people of all religions can visit the city’s holy places and worship freely there without fear.”

It warns that Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem “might be tempted to withdraw from public life”, caught between claims for an exclusively Jewish Jerusalem and those for an exclusively Islamic Holy City.

Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem are instead “solidly rooted in their personal identity, in its religious and national dimensions”.

Despite “their small number,” they can “can respond fully to their local and universal vocation” by working for “equality, justice and peace" and contribute “by all possible means to bring the conflict in Jerusalem to an end.” 

Speaking to AsiaNews, Auxiliary Bishop and Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo said that the Church is committed “to keeping Christians” in this land and “strengthen their roots so that they can stay”. This means “making them aware that they belong to this land and history so as to prevent them from leaving.”

“We raise awareness in schools,” explained the prelate. In fact, schools “are almost more important than parishes today for keeping the faith alive and for encouraging our young people to learn.”

The better their education, the greater the chances of "finding a job”. This is important because “Christians are only 2 per cent of the population" and have fewer opportunities than Jews and Muslims.

For Bishop Marcuzzo, “This is not only a commitment to social issues, but also to pastoral care to prevent emigration."

At this time in history, characterised by "greed and individualism,” the task of Christians "is to maintain the light of hope and dialogue" in a “complex reality”.

“Ours is a call for hope, which echoes in every sermon and in the catechism.”