Holy Land Patriarch condemns Israel ban on Arafat Mass attendance
In his Christmas message, Patriarch Michel Sabbah has condemned both the Israeli government's ban on Yasser Arafat's attending Midnight Mass, as well as the military occupation of Bethlehem.
Sabbah, leader of Latin Rite Catholics in the Holy Land, urged the world community and Christians everywhere "to wake up" and help the Israelis and Palestinians accept peace.
"Our message is also an appeal to all persons of good will, to the international community, and to all our Churches over the world, to wake up and to come and help both peoples of this land to make peace, based on justice, equality and dignity," he said. "To all we say: Do not forget this land and do not abandon us to our fate."
Patriarch Sabbah added: "As for the siege and the humiliation imposed on the Palestinians of Bethlehem itself and on all the Palestinian towns and villages, and the demolition of houses and the killing of people ... all these measures push us rather to renew our courage, our hope and our love even to those who make our life hard."
"The present difficulties will not compel us to cancel our feasts. Besides the sufferings already imposed upon us, it is not necessary to dispossess ourselves from the joy of the feast and from our duty to worship God and present him ourselves with all our sufferings."
Church head to Mideast leaders - make peace or quit (Reuters)
Bethlehem Franciscans appeal for freedom to celebrate Christmas (Independent Catholic News)
A Christmas message from Bethlehem (Independent Catholic News)
Vatican should fire Latin Patriarch (letter to Jerusalem Post)
Jerusalem Patriarch condemns Israeli occupation (2/4/02)
Bethlehem Christians give thanks (13/5/02)
20 Dec 2002