The churches of Jerusalem, Amman and the world are united for Jerusalem

Church of Gethsemane in Jerusalem

The churches of Jerusalem, Amman and the world are united for Jerusalem

Fr. Rif'at Bader

The churches of the world were not absent from the most prominent event that has taken place and represented in the reactions to the US president’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem. The churches and the Christians of the world have not been so close and united with their Muslim brethren as they are nowadays, at a time when their sentiments are affected by the situation of the city which is the dearest to all the hearts of “the children of Abraham.” His Majesty King Abdullah II said at the Islamic summit meeting: "Jerusalem is in the heart of all Muslims and Christians."

The churches of Jordan have expressed their views by ringing the bells and lighting candles in protest against the unjust decision. They also issued a statement denouncing and condemning the measure, as well as confirming that they rally behind the leadership of His Majesty the King, who is currently leading a "diplomacy of wisdom", moving from one capital to the other to attain justice. Furthermore, the churches of Egypt, namely the Catholic and Orthodox Coptic churches, as well the churches of Iraq and Lebanon and the World Council of Churches have issued condemnation and renunciation statements. They unanimously expressed their "disappointment" at the US decision, especially in light of the public allegations made by President Trump Middle East regarding “support from the Christians of the Middle East”.

In the Vatican, the Holy See reiterated its clear position in this regard by issuing a special statement a few days ago. The statement states that the Vatican expresses concerns about the prospective for peace in the region which is the object in these days of various initiatives, among them meetings called urgently by the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The Holy See also stressed the singular character of the Holy City and the essential need for respecting the status quo, in conformity with the deliberations of the international community and the repeated requests of the hierarchies of the Churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land. The Holy See reiterated its own conviction that only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and lasting peace, and guarantee the peaceful co-existence of two states within internationally recognized borders.

In Jerusalem, in addition to the statement issued by the Council of the Heads of Churches which expressed rejection of changing the status quo of Jerusalem in a message addressed to the US President, Patriarch Michel Sabah said from Beit Sahour: “In these days, our oppressors have decided to deprive us from the joy of Christmas. They decided to offer us war instead of peace. However, whatever the great of this world and the lords of war say or decide, we will not lose our joy. We will remain in our land, we will remain in Jerusalem, capital of our prayers and of our daily life, whatever they say and decide.”
The reaction was not limited to the Arab region, for the churches of Europe reacted through a statement issued by the Council of European Bishops which called for respecting the status quo of Jerusalem in line with United Nations resolutions. It is impossible to understand the Christian roots of Europe, without linking them to Jerusalem, whereby it is also for the European people the 'home of the fathers' and the 'homeland' of many people of different religions who pray in the Holy City. The council, which includes all European Catholic bishops, noted that changing the status quo would create an atmosphere hostile to peace. It called on all concerned parties to act 'fairly and wisely' to maintain and promote peace.

In the United States, the Council of Catholic Bishops has informed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires "wise" US participation in order to build a better future for both peoples, noting that relocating the embassy will jeopardize this future.

Archbishop Oscar Kanto, head of the International Episcopal Committee of the council, which includes bishops of various US states, said that solving the conflict requires "decisive and sustained engagement" to overcome fifty years of conflict "and its outrageous injustices and indiscriminate violence."

The same Bishop had written on February 1, 2017 that "the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem is tantamount to the dangerous recognition of unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." He pointed out that the international community has recognized the need to determine the status of Jerusalem in agreements between Israel and Palestine. He added that the relocation of the embassy would undermine the United States' commitment to the two-state solution. He continued that the United States had always strived to provide "leadership and support" for the peace process.

In addition to several statements and prayers by the patriarchs and heads of the world's Orthodox churches, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Church in Britain, said that preserving the "status quo" of Jerusalem is one of the most important ingredients of hope, peace and reconciliation for Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. "

Jerusalem unites us, Muslims and Christians... It has united the entire human family.

Thank you, Jerusalem.

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