Tag Archives: Christians in the Holy Land

stop the work on the wall

26 Aug

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2013 Christmas Message from Father Rob Waller

27 Dec

At all six Masses on Christmas at St. Andrew we presented to each person a booklet with all the prayers and music for the celebration. The first thing people saw was a welcome message and an explanantion of the preace dove.

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(click on image of program to see it enlarged)

By yourself or with family,

grateful or hurting, disappointed or satisfied,

successful or stressed, sick or healed, elated or deflated,

feeling the loss of health, home, loved one and employment,

or with everyone and in good relationship

with everyone whom you love and who loves you,

we come to Mass on this holy day

and approach the altar

with grateful and humble hearts.

 

Jesus is on the altar at every Mass

as truly as he was in the manger on the first Christmas.

As he was in the wood of feeding trough

and on the wood of the cross,

he is truly present on our altar-table

for our nourishment and our salvation.

 

At every Mass

we are in Bethlehem on Christmas,

at Calvary on Good Friday

and at the empty tomb in Jerusalem on Easter morning.

 

May you experience always

the spirit of Christmas which is peace,

the joy of Christmas which is hope,

and the heart of Christmas which is love.

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A “peace dove” with lighted candle will remain on the ledge at the tabernacle in our church throughout the Christmas season. Our friends in our partner parish and school in the Beit Jala area of Bethlehem will light a candle for us on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. They will remember us in Bethlehem, as we will remember them here. The Christians who live in Bethlehem still do not enjoy the peace the angels sang about on the first Christmas. As we sing the opening words of the Gloria – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will” – we will pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Bethlehem, throughout the Holy Land and all throughout the Middle East.

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more might be taken away

2 May

This photo is a glimpse of the situation in which our friends in Beit Jala at Annunciation Catholic Church live out their daily lives.

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There is a Mass every Friday afternoon in the olive grove of Cremisan Valley to ask God to intercede on behalf on the people of Beit Jala. Note the chalice. That is a gift from us to them. They use it weekly, as they pray.

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Father Ibrahim, the pastor of the Catholic parish in Beit Jala, prays at Holy Mass, with the Israeli settlement of Gilo across the valley, built on land once owned by the people of Beit Jala.

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If a new section of the Israeli concrete wall is built through the valley, as proposed by the State of Israel and resisted by the Palestinian Christians, that settlement will spread done the hill, through the valley, and be joined with another settlement on the opposite side of the valley. Thus more land, more access, more livelihood, more recreational enjoyment, more freedom of movement and more freedom of the practice of religion will be taken away from the people of Beit Jala. 

See: “Palestinians’ prayerful protest awaits verdict.”

change the route of the wall

30 Apr

JERUSALEM – The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a press release following the verdict last week favoring the construction of the wall of separation in the Cremisan Valley. The appeal called for a change in the course of the wall according to the route of the ‘green line’.

Holy Land Bishops Ordinaries

Communiqué:

A few days ago, an Israeli court in Tel Aviv issued its verdict on the Cremisan Valley issue, endorsing the previously decided path of the wall separating the convent of the Salesian Sisters who run a thriving school and at the same time includes the lands of 58 Palestinian families from Beit Jala to the area of the Israeli settlement of Gilo.

We are frustrated by this unjust decision that invokes the need for security of Israel but also the difficulty of changing the route of the already built portion of the wall, which makes us a fait accompli. Note that fait accompli cannot become the source of a new law. 

This is why we join all those who work for peace and justice. We ask to change the route of the wall along the “Green Line”. We hope that this will take place in the Supreme Court.

We remind Israeli decision-makers that the expropriation of lands does not serve the cause of peace and does not strengthen the position of the moderates.

With our prayers for peace in the Holy Land, on the basis of mutual respect and international legitimacy,

His Beatitude Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jérusalem
Président of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

hoping Francis will help

28 Apr

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Last Wednesday, April 24, the people of Beit Jala (Bethlehem) – and the few people in the rest of the world who are paying attention – heard the decision of an Israeli Appeal’s Committee that “the Wall” can be built right through another section of Palestinian land: their Cremisan Valley.

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Today, April 28, is Palm Sunday in Beit Jala. They begin Holy Week, and will celebrate Easter with the Orthodox Christians on May 5. 

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This coming week Pope Francis will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was invited by the Holy Father for a visit to the Vatican, among the first of the world leaders who will meet with the new Pope.

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This all comes together in these photos, taken today in Beit Jala. The people of Annunciation Catholic parish gathered today, on Palm Sunday, outside their church after Sunday Mass to sign letters to Pope Francis, pleading with him to keep Cremisan high on his agenda when he meets with the Israeli president.

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You might find this April 24 article  in the Washington Post, “Palestinian Christians hope new pope will help in battle against Israel’s barrier route,” helpful for understanding the present state of the situation.

respectfully, Mr. President

21 Mar

obama israel visit 2013 statement

Below is the letter from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land to the US President Obama for his first visit in Israel, West Bank and Jordan. Barack Obama arrived in Israel on Wednesday, his first visit as US president. He will visit Bethlehem tomorrow, Friday, March 22, 2013.

The President of the United States

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
USA

Dear Mr. President,

We, the heads of the Catholic/Christian Churches in Jerusalem, welcome you wholeheartedly on your forthcoming visit to Israel and Palestine. On this occasion we would like to draw your attention to some major problems that deeply affect the Christian presence in these countries.

In this year, the Palestinian people are living for 46 years under Israeli military occupation. The plight of the Palestinian Christians is the same as that of the Palestinian People as a whole, and as a consequence everything that affects the Palestinian people also affects the Christians.

In the occupied Palestinian territories, among the numerous violations of international law by the Israeli authorities we mention only a few: illegal Israeli settlements, a permit regime which restricts severely access to the Holy places for Muslims and Christians alike, expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land for settlement expansion and the construction of the separation barrier (like in the present case of the valley Cremisan), etc.

Statelessness, endless family unification procedures and the rejection of the registration of children as well as the limited possibilities to expand due to few granted building permits in East Jerusalem violate basic human rights of the Palestinians and force them into displacement, migration and exile.

The majority of the local Christian population being part of the Arab population in Israel, they are as such subjected to an ongoing, hidden policy of discrimination and are treated as second class citizens in the fields of education, job opportunities, property ownership, local municipal services, etc.

Though the Christian Palestinian presence plays an important role in this Holy Land: it gives a large contribution in the fields of education, healthcare and social services, their absence will have catastrophic consequences especially with the rise of the fundamentalists on both sides. Thus every effort should be made to preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land, and to have it flourish in the future so that hope is not lost. The oppressive and discriminatory policies by the Israeli government constitute a violation of the protection of a religious minority which is specifically underlined by international law.

We urge you, in your position as President of the United States of America, to require from the State of Israel to respect international law and to stop all illegal policies targeting the Palestinian population of the Holy Land; this would be the best way of contributing to preserve and protect the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Most Respectfully,

Justice and Peace Commission, Assembly Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

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As previously posted, I sent an email to President Obama and signed an online petition against the building of the Wall in the Cremisan Valley.

 

8:30 am Milford – and – 3:30 pm Beit Jala

8 Feb

Mass has been celebrated in Cremisan valley every Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a prayer-protest of a proposed new section of what is called a separation wall by the Palestinians and a security fence by the Israelis. Whether it is for separation or security, it is definitely a wall, and not a fence, in this section of the structure that divides Beit Jala and Jerusalem.

Earlier in January Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala, celebrated the Mass in the cold and snow, after an unusual snowfall a couple days before.fr_ibraheem 2

We see on the altar a blue-green pottery chalice. Father Shomali has used this chalice for the weekly Mass ever since June.

We brought it from Cincinnati as a gift to him and the parish. So, after we used it when we celebrated Mass in that olive grove in Cremisan valley on the edge of the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem-area, we left it behind, so that they might remember us in prayer as we remember them in prayer. ibrahin snow bend over 7

Today – Friday, February 8 – will be the last day that Father Shomali will celebrate Mass in that olive grove before the final decision of the Israeli government.  A final decision of the Israeli Court will be handed down on February 12. Will Israel take control of the Cremisan valley? Or will the Cremisan valley remain in the hands of the Palestinians?

PRAY. At 8:30 a.m.(Milford time) pray in solidarity with Father Ibrahim and the people of Beit Jala as they celebrate Mass at 3:30 p.m. (Beit Jala time).

ACT. As urged by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sign the petition that will be taken to Israeli authorities in protest of the proposed building of this section of the wall.

8 days since I added my signature

7 Feb

save the valley in Cremisan: online petition

31 Jan

Cremisan school

The Society of St. Yves is the Catholic Center for Human Rights of the Latin Patriarchate (the Roman Catholic Archdiocese) in the Holy Land. The lawyers of this society have been arguing before the Israeli Supreme Court, at the request of the Latin Patriarchate, asking the Court to stop the Israeli government from building a new section of the security fence (separation wall) through the Cremisan valley at the edge of Beit Jala (Bethlehem).

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Last summer I celebrated Mass in Cremisan valley, and wrote about the place in this previous post: “Not on Friday, but on Tuesday.”

The Society of St. Yves outlines the reasons against the building of this section of the wall, and provides an online petition of support for their position that will be sent to Israeli authorities.  Find out more and sign the petition at “Save the valley in Cremisan: Support bridges, not walls!

When I signed the petition, I wrote this as my reason for signing:

Our friends in Israel could clearly express their desire for reconciliation and security for all who live in the land by a decision NOT to build this section of the fence/wall in the Cremisan valley as it is proposed. Just think of the good public relations message that the Israeli government would put out and the good will that they would spread by making it known that they want the Christians to stay, that they want the people of Beit Jala to have a green space in which to rest and play, that they want the people of the area to have access to water, that they do not want the farmers to lose their livelihood, and that they want the children of the valley to feel safe and secure enough to live and learn as all children deserve – by making it known that they will NOT build that proposed wall/fence through the valley of Cremisan. The Israelis and the Israel government have an opportunity here that they do not often have to put their actions where their words are and their hearts where their minds are. An international audience would hear the message. Not building the wall/fence in the Cremisan Valley along the proposed route is a win-win situation for both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and especially for the children on both sides of that fence/wall that now divides them.

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You are most welcome

31 Dec

While on pilgrimage in the Holy Land in June 2012 with a group of teachers from various schools in our Archdiocese of Cincinnati we celebrated an outdoor Mass in Cremisan Valley in an olive grove. It was then that we met Deacon Sleiman (Solomon), a student at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary who is serving as deacon at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.

In his car Deacon Solomon led our bus on its way through the village of Beit Jala, up over the hill and around the winding roads, to the Cremisan Valley. In the open trunk of his car, he brought along an altar table, and inside the car he had everything we needed for Mass. He was the perfect host and gentleman. He is, in the words of one of our pilgrim-teachers, a holy man – and he will be a good and holy priest.

As you see him and hear him in this YouTube video, enjoy his smile and his obvious love for the Church. We can assure  y0u that he means it when he says, “You are most welcome to be here with us in our Annunication Church in Beit Jala.”