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Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem issues annual Christmas message

Catholic World News - December 19, 2013

In his annual Christmas message, Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem reviewed ecclesial and political events of the past year.

“The situation in the Middle East is becoming more complex and dramatic,” he said. “The scenarios in Syria and Iraq can be repeated elsewhere, as seen in Egypt and Libya. The instability affects everyone, but especially our faithful who are tempted to emigrate. In Gaza our people are suffering from the effects of the embargo imposed by Israel and even Egypt.”

“To prevent the conflict from spreading in the whole region, a 'sustainable' ceasefire in Syria should be immediately established and prevent any entry of outside weapons,” he continued. “As the Syrian problem cannot be resolved by the force of arms, we call on all political leaders to assume the responsibility for finding a mutually acceptable political solution that will end the senseless violence, and uphold respect for the dignity of people.”

The patriarch called for “a necessary amendment to the constitution of Arab countries, so that Christians can feel at home like all other citizens, with all the inherent rights and duties” and decried “all forms of religious fundamentalism. We realized that in our diocese this year, there has been an increase in acts of vandalism carried out by extremists that affected some 20 holy places or places of worship.”

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