Letter to the Pope and the Ecuemnical Patriarch
Your Holiness Pope Francis
Your Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,…”Matthew 19:14
Our Lord Jesus said this over two thousand years ago in this Holy Land. Today we are reminded of our Lord’s wish as we await Your historic visit to our beloved city Jerusalem, but we know our meeting with You will be hindered by the political Israeli authorities.
Jerusalem saw the birth of the Church. We, our fathers and forefathers, continue this long Christian presence throughout centuries until today in this holy city. This Holy City witnessed Your predecessors’ meeting fifty years ago. At that time, we were free and we were blessed to take part in the ecumenical historical visit. Today, we are the little children under occupation, who are barred from getting near you in our city!
Since we will be hindered, let our words come to You
With gratitude to You, both Spiritual Leaders and with God’s blessings, we are full of hope that Your ecumenical meeting will inspire the long awaited unity of the One Church, again in Jerusalem. Your pilgrimage is our sign of hope. Hope for the unity of Christians all over the world, but also our Christian hope for freedom from occupation, and for justice for Palestine and Palestinians. We know Your stand with the poor and the victims will prevail in the light of truth.
Jerusalem Christians were 24,000 before Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. Today, we are less than 9,000! This is due to displacement, house confiscation and demolitions, revocation and denial of residency rights and restrictions of movement. We have become an isolated community, economically and socially as a result of Israeli laws against family re-unification, and torn apart by the separation wall. This is the truth of Jerusalem Christians today.
We long to live normal lives in our city with full human rights and total freedom. Not with barriers and bars. We long for a living church, not empty stones. We aspire to self-determination, liberated from an oppressive occupation that imposes discriminatory regulations and laws where Jerusalem becomes exclusive for one people and one religion.
We will keep witnessing for our Lord Jesus and our Christian faith in this land as Palestinians. After the darkness of the Tomb, we will live as the church of the Resurrection.
With these sincere words from Your little ones, we, Jerusalem Christians pray for your successful ecumenical pilgrimage and meetings, believing in the power of truth and prayerful action in facing Empire and earthly powers’ oppression, as you have taught us. You are our Fathers and our guides. We are sure that you will listen to our cry, know our pain and work towards preserving the dignity of all human beings.
With respect and sincerity,
On behalf of Palestinian Christians of Jerusalem
Jerusalem Christian Organizations : Arab Catholic Scouts Group, Arab Orthodox Scouts Group, Arab Orthodox Society – Jerusalem , Caritas- Jerusalem , Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees- Middle East Council of Churches , Greek Catholic Lady of Annunciation Association, International Christian Committee , Laity Committee in the Holy Land, National Christian Association ,Pontifical Mission Palestine , SABEEL – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Seeds of Better Life , Union of Arab Orthodox Club – Jerusalem, Young Men’s Christian Association –YMCA, Young Women’s Christian Association –YWCA and Kairos Palestine