Today’s stories all concern the Holy Land and, in a special way, Jerusalem, given the indications by the Trump administration that the U.S. will declare Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel and announce plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, thus making it the only nation in the world with ties to Israel that has its embassy in Jerusalem.
I published the first story on my blog and Facebook page the instant it happened.
The second story is a summary of the Pope’s remarks to a group of Palestinians following their meeting yesterday in the Vatican with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The third story is the communiqué from the pontifical council about yesterday’s meeting, The breaking news in that communiqué was the announcement that the two sides decided to establish a Joint Working Group for Dialogue, through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding. The Pope was told about the joint group this morning at the general audience and, said the communiqué, he “expressed his joy for the establishment of the Joint Working Group, wishing it success in its mission.”
PAPAL APPEAL FOR JERUSALEM
Pope Francis said these words at the end of the general audience this morning in the Paul VI Hall. It certainly is a speedy Vatican response to news coming from the Trump administration about the status of Jerusalem.
Following is my translation of his appeal made in Italian:
“My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot be silent about my very deep concern for the situation that has been created in recent days, and at the same time I make a heartfelt appeal that it becomes everyone’s commitment to respect the status quo of the city in conformity with the pertinent United Nations resolutions.
“Jerusalem is a unique city sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims and in it they venerate the Holy Places of their respective religions, and it has a special vocation to peace.
“I pray the Lord that this identity will be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and of the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence will prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension to a world panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts.”
POPE EMPHASIZES “BRIDGES OF DIALOGUE” IN MEETING WITH PALESTINIANS
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, before his general audience on Wednesday, greeted a Palestinian delegation hosted by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
He told them that it was his hope “that your consultations may help to open a space of sincere dialogue for the benefit of all the members of Palestinian society, and the Christian community in particular, given its small numbers and the challenges it faces, especially with regard to emigration.”
The Holy Father emphasized that, “for the Catholic Church, it is always a joy to build bridges of dialogue with communities, individuals and organizations, adding that it was a particular joy to do so with Palestinian religious and intellectual leaders.” Dialogue, said the Pope, “takes place at every level: with ourselves through reflection and prayer, in our families, in our religious communities, between different religious communities, and also in civil society.”
He noted that the primary condition of that dialogue was “reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be.”
The Pope remarked that the Holy Land was for Christians “the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind.” He also highlighted the fact that the culmination of this dialogue took place in Nazareth between the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary.
The Holy Father went on to say, “that dialogue continues in a unique way between Jesus and his people, in representation of humanity as a whole.”
Concluding his greeting, Pope Francis recalled the “kindness that the Authorities of the State of Palestine have shown to the Christian community, acknowledging its place and its role in Palestinian society.”
COMMUNIQUE FROM PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
On Tuesday, December 5 2017, a meeting took place in Rome between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Palestinian Commission for Interreligious Dialogue.
The delegation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president. The Palestinian Commission for Interreligious Dialogue was headed by Shaykh Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Supreme Judge of the State of Palestine and President of the same Commission.
The other participants from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue were H.E. Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary, and Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, Bureau Chief for Islam.
The other members of the Palestinian Delegation were Mr Ziad Al-Bandak, Minister and Counsellor to the President for Church Affairs, Mr Adnan Al-Husseini, Governor of Jerusalem and Member of the Higher Islamic Council, Mr Issa Kassissieh, Ambassador of the State of Palestine to the Holy See, and Mr Ammar Al-Nisnas, Counsellor of the Embassy.
The two sides decided to establish a Joint Working Group for Dialogue, through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding.
The two delegations were pleased to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis, on Wednesday December 6, who expressed his joy for the establishment of the Joint Working Group, wishing it success in its mission.