Church Leaders from the Holy Land Unite in the US

(Christian Media Center) Among the topics regarding the Church in the Holy Land: pilgrimages, the presence of local Christians and the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. The same issues were discussed in a conference that brought together the leaders of the Christian churches in the Holy Land and the United States in Atlanta on April 19 and 20. Representing the Franciscan Custody was Father Ibrahim Faltas, local bursar, who evaluated the meeting in positive terms.

Fr. IBRAHIM Faltas, ofm
Bursar of the Custody of the Holy Land
“They heard our concerns and the viewpoint of the leaders of our local Churches, we expressed our fears for the Christian presence in the Holy Land and especially in Jerusalem. Everyone understood these feelings, worries and fears. We asked for their support and their help and we also asked them to encourage tourists and pilgrims to return to the Holy Land, because this would help the local Christians a lot, given that most of them work in this field. ”

Among the participants were the mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun and the Ambassador of Palestine to the Holy See, Issa Kassissieh. For him the conference was a good opportunity to make the voices of the Christians of the Holy Land heard from a distance.

ISSA Kassissieh
Palestinian Ambassador to the Holy See

“We have an explicit position and a clear vision on the future of the Holy Land and the Middle East. We are concerned about the impact of current events on our situation and we reaffirm the need to defend an action of peace between the two nations, so that both peoples may live in peace and in mutual respect. We are also concerned about Christian emigration which is taking place in the Holy Land: it is inconceivable that in the future we will be able to talk about Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, without taking care of the living stones of this place: the Palestinian Christians. ”

The second stage of the congress was Washington. The heads of the Churches took part in meetings at the White House, at the US Congress and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they sent a letter to President Obama.

Fr. IBRAHIM Faltas, ofm
Bursar of the Custody of the Holy Land

“We do not want the Holy Land without Christians. We do not want the holy sites to become museums, without the local Christians. This is the content of the message that the heads of Churches delivered to President Obama. They also asked him to reaffirm the importance of dialogue, the relations between both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, because without a dialogue, the situation becomes critical and increasingly difficult, while with the dialogue, the situation will improve and will create an understanding between them”.

At the conclusion of the summit, a document was drawn up with various proposals to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land as well as a peaceful coexistence between religions and to promote the arrival of pilgrims. There is also a desire to organize another meeting in the future, to strengthen Christianity in the place where Christianity was born.