SOS message from Jerusalem Christians to Pope Francis I
Message from Palestinian Christians to the Pope on the occasion of his visit to Israel/Palestine
Your Holiness Pope Francis
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,…”Matthew 19:14
Our Lord Jesus said this over two thousand years ago in this Holy Land. Today we are reminded of our Lord’s wish as we were awaiting Your historic visit to our beloved city Jerusalem. But because we knew our meeting with Your Holiness will be hindered by the Israeli authorities, we made arrangements with the Latin Patriarchate for a representative sector of our community to be on the road just to catch a glimpse of you on your way to the Holy Sepulcher for your historic meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch.
However, yesterday evening Palestinian women, children and disabled were beaten up by the Israeli police. After ordering us from one place to another they ended up accusing us of blocking the street!! Women and children were injured and young men were arrested for some time. No one came to our rescue. (Photos attached)
We only wanted to greet your Holiness like any community in Buenos Aires, in the same way You were received in Amman and in Bethlehem.
Since we were hindered from addressing you personally or getting to salute you on the road, we send you our greetings and our message of Hope
With God’s blessings and with your Holiness as our spiritual leader we are full of hope that Your ecumenical meeting will inspire the long awaited unity of the One Church, again in Jerusalem. Your pilgrimage in itself is a sign of hope; not only hope for the unity of Christians all over the world, but also hope for our liberation from the occupation. Hope for justice for the Palestinians, and hope for the establishment of our own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. We have always appreciated your stand with the marginalized, the poor and the victims of injustice. So we know we can count on your Holiness to be champion of truth, justice and peace.
Jerusalem Christians were 24,000 before Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. Today, we are less than 9,000! This is due to displacement, house confiscation and demolitions, revocation and denial of residency rights and restriction of movement. We have become an isolated community, economically and socially as a result of Israeli laws against family re-unification, and torn apart by the separation wall. This is the reality facing Jerusalem Christians today. Representatives of our community have already handed you a letter during your historic visit to Bethlehem asserting our role and our needs.
We long to live normal lives in our city with full human rights and total freedom as well as freedom of worships. We long for a living church, not empty stones. We aspire to self-determination, liberated from an oppressive occupation that imposes discriminatory regulations and laws where Jerusalem becomes exclusive for one people and one religion.
We will keep witnessing for our Lord Jesus and our Christian faith in this land as Palestinians. After the darkness of the Tomb, we will live as the church of the Resurrection.
With these sincere words from Your little flock, we Jerusalem Christians, pray for your successful ecumenical pilgrimage and meetings, believing in the power of truth and prayerful action in facing Empire and the oppression of earthly powers as you have taught us. You are our Father and we are sure that you will listen to our cry, feel our pain and work towards preserving the dignity of all human beings.
Faithfully Yours, On behalf of Palestinian Christians of Jerusalem
Jerusalem Christian Organizations : Arab Catholic Scouts Group, Arab Orthodox Scouts Group, Arab Orthodox Society – Jerusalem , Caritas- Jerusalem , Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees- Middle East Council of Churches , Greek Catholic Lady of Annunciation Association, International Christian Committee , Laity Committee in the Holy Land, National Christian Association ,Pontifical Mission Palestine , SABEEL – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Seeds of Better Life , Union of Arab Orthodox Club – Jerusalem, Young Men’s Christian Association –YMCA, Young Women’s Christian Association –YWCA and Kairos Palestine