Jerusalem… and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Jerusalem… and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

For Christians and Muslims in the Arab world and in the Middle East, the New Year began with eyes focusing on the Nativity City, Bethlehem, and other eyes welling with tears focusing on the city of peace, Jerusalem.

The US president's decision regarding the Holy City sparked waves of protest. The Churches in Jordan organized mass candle-light vigil marches and prayed for peace. Large demonstrations also followed Friday prayers from various mosques.

Prior to his visit to the Vatican and meeting with Pope Francis, King Abdullah II conveyed Christmas well wishes to the Christians at the Baptism Site at a time when senior officials reiterated their support for his custodianship of the Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem. Furthermore, Al-Azhar convened a relevant international conference attended by Christian, Islamic and political figures.

What is important at the moment is the Muslim-Christian solidarity. A Psalm in Holy Bible says, "We are all born in you, O City of the Most High. It unites all those who love peace and all the worshipers of the One God."

It is also the optimum time for Christian unity, and we do not forget that we are in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Since there are 13 different churches in Jerusalem, the love of Jerusalem may prompt us further to proceed towards unity in the spirit of true ecumenism. Last year, a large number of Christians were martyred because of religious violence, especially in dear Egypt, so we are called upon to unite in the spirit of "the ecumenism of blood" which Pope Francis had earlier addressed.

Furthermore, this is the time to put an end to the most serious suffering we have inherited from the 20th century, namely the Palestinian issue. This issue receded in the past year with the world's preoccupation with the so-called Arab Spring. It is time for Palestine to be highlighted and to have the central issue of Jerusalem be the focal point of the world so that the international community would contribute to finding a just solution and restore all the usurped rights to their rightful owners… May peace prevail in the city of peace.

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