Jerusalem patriarch says destroy churches, not homes
In his Lenten pastoral letter, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, has called on Israeli troops to spare the homes of Palestinian families and destroy their churches instead.
"We can find other places to pray if we must," he wrote, while emphasising the importance of protecting families and especially children.
Reminding the Israelis of their past as an oppressed people, Patriarch Sabbah asked them not to regard Palestinians as killers or terrorists, but as an occupied nation fighting for its freedom.
He urged the Israelis to "return the land to its owners, give them back their freedom, listen to the voice of the oppressed and the poor."
While calling the Palestinians to unity and firmness with regard to the status of the country's holy shrines, the Patriarch also asked them to "spare the homes of the innocent."
"We must not allow the demolition of our children's homes, and force them to leave their country," he said.
Reminding the Palestinians of God's commandment to love one's enemy, Patriarch Sabbah stressed that this love is not a sign of weakness, but a vision of "God's face in every man, whether Palestinian or Israeli."