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Jerusalem patriarch issues Christmas message

December 18, 2014

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem issued his annual Christmas message on December 18 and reflected on the ways in which 2014 was both “the best of times” and “the worst of times.”

Among the highlights of 2014, said Patriarch Fouad Twal, were the apostolic journey of Pope Francis to the Holy Land, the subsequent Vatican prayer meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the ordination of nine men to the priesthood, the announcement of the upcoming canonization of two Palestinian saints, and the Synod of Bishops on the family.

“The Synod reaffirmed the unity and indissolubility of the marriage institution,” he said. “If there is progress to be made, it will be on the level of pastoral care toward separated couples and couples who entered into a second marriage.”

The year also saw “an intensification of violence and subsequent hostile reactions,” he continued. “The devastating war and accompanying bloodshed in Gaza, being the most shattering of all … We condemn the Gaza war and deplore its dramatic consequences: killing and destruction; but at the same time, we condemn any category of violence and retaliation against innocent people such as the killing of people praying in a synagogue and attacks against mosques.”

The prelate also lamented the plight of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and expressed concern for the two Salesian communities and 58 Christian families whose Cremisan Valley land is slated to be confiscated in order to extend the Israeli West Bank barrier.

“In all our troubles and suffering, we remember with gratitude the solidarity of many people, organizations, institutions and states, who have come to our aid through many ways and means,” Patriarch Twal concluded. “The celebration of the Birth of Jesus promises mercy, love, and peace to countless people in their suffering and tribulation; to people who see their lives shattered and their efforts broken in the tumultuous strife and hatred of our stormy days.”


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