We, the Patriarchs and the heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem, have met today, when our region is living one of its most crucial crisis hi its modern history, dangerously poised on the brink of a devastating war.
We, the Spiritual Heads of the Christian Communities in the Holy Land, call upon the world leaders to follow the course of negotiation and peace and spare the region from ultimate destruction.
We deplore the fact that the Patriarchs and the heads of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land are constant targets of attacks by Israeli officials and the Israeli media.
We consider if our sacred duty to voice our concern about human rights’ violations in the Occupied Territories, and everywhere, as well as with Jews in Israel.
We call upon all parties to reconcile, forgive and love each other.
We call upon the responsible to follow the path of negotiation rather than violence.
The prospects of constructive dialogue and peace in the Holy Land are receding. Despair is the pervasive mood.
We are witnessing a deterioration in the condition of the Palestinian people. There if a considerable suffering and loss of lives. We pray for a quick reconciliation and a just settlement of the conflict.
As we look back at the past year, we witness that the local Church had to cope with a host of problems of a new nature:
Constant attempts to change the demographic character or the Old City of Jerusalem, for example, the forcible and continuing seizure by “Ateret Cohanim” settlers of the St. John’s Hospice (property of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate).
Continuing erosion of the traditional rights and centuries’ old privileges of the Churches. Municipal and state taxes are being imposed on the Churches, in addition to encroachment on church land and properties, thus endangering its very survival.
We express our deep concern for the new problems confronting the local Church. They interfere with the proper functioning of our religious institutions, and we call upon the civil authorities in the country to safeguard our historic rights and status honoured by all governments.
We ask our sons and daughters to join us in fervent prayer on Christmas Night, may the Lord grant us patience, strength and love.
In view of the continuing, sad state of affairs in our land, we have decided to restrict Christmas festivities to religious ceremonies, without any manifestation of joy, and devote our prayers for the peace of the Land and the world. Furthermore, all exchange visits between the Communities are cancelled.
Once more, we launch an urgent appeal from Bethlehem to all peace-loving peopleto influence their leaders to resolve the conflict in the Gulf without bloodshed and enormous loss of human lives
We pray to the Lord to guide the leaders of the world in the path of peace and justice, and we pray for a year free of the threat of war and violence, extending our blessing to all the faithful.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem
Custos of the Holy Land (Franciscan)
Syrian Archbishop of Jerusalem
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and President Bishop of Anglican Church
The Greek-Catholic Patriarchal Vicar
The Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem