Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا abouna.org

Published on Friday, 9 July 2021

Will the land of Lord Jesus be left without Christians?

By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org :

It is a question that makes one cogitate, think deeply, and meditate looking for an answer. It is hard to find an acceptable or rather a realistic answer to the question, "Will the land of Lord Jesus be left without Christians?"

 

Under the current difficult and preposterous situations prevailing in the Holy Land, it is hard to give a concrete answer.  The website romereports.com has posted a video in the hope of drawing attention to the situation in the Holy Land Christians and to help find acceptable and durable solutions.

 
A Christian from Bethlehem, Halil Haniya, says, What do we gain if Christians leave Bethlehem? It would just be a site to visit and the spirit would be lost. We are the witnesses of Lord Jesus here.”

 

The situation is very dolorous as Christians are now moving away from the region to look for a safe future for their families in lands far away from the Holy Land with the hops that it will provide them with jobs and security. Will then the land of Jesus be left without Christians?  What is the future of the land where Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace, walked? The fewer and fewer pilgrims visiting the Holy Land even before the pandemic is attributed to increasing indifference and declining faith, which  leaves the Christians of the Holy Land  in  dire straits.

 

In a recent interesting interview posted by vaticannews.va, Custos of the Holy Land Brother Francesco Patton discussed the situation in the Holy Land and the Middle East, as well as the importance of pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He touched on the situation of Christians in the Holy Land, and underlined the need to restore pilgrimage and tourism particularly during summer 2021 since Christians in several areas, including Bethlehem, rely on pilgrimage to the holy sites as a means for eking out a living.  The decline in the number of tourists visiting Bethlehem wreaked havoc on the economies of Christians who were fretting to get both ends meet.

 

While he hoped that Christians from all over the world would feel the need to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he noted that pilgrimage to the Holy Land, particularly to Bethlehem, is urgently needed in order to financially help the Christians living there.

 

It is to be admitted that Christians living in Bethlehem have had hard times over the past year caused by continuous lockdowns designed to curb the spread of the corona pandemic, at the time when they rely basically on tourism as a major source of income.

 

Under such a situation, exigent action is needed to stop the hemorrhage of Christians from the Holy Land, particularly from Bethlehem and Jerusalem, by creating atmospheres that ensure them a better future.

 

What is important at this point is to undertake a workable strategy that ensures permanent support for the Christians of the Holy Land by ensuring funds collected though regular global donations destined for supporting them as they are the living stones of the Church in the Holy Land.

 

During his recent meeting with the members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), His Holiness Pope Francis said,  “While the crisis may have encouraged us to focus on what is essential,  we cannot remain indifferent when we think of the deserted streets of Jerusalem and the loss of those pilgrims who go there to strengthen their faith, but also to express concrete solidarity with the local Churches and their people.”

 

He also urged Catholics across the globe to "appreciate the significance of this form of charity."

 

The Holy Land Christians have been serving as a key factor of stability and enlightenment. They played major roles in the progress of their societies in various fields which include education, culture and arts, social affairs, politics, economics, humanitarian assistance, health, and religious activities. Furthermore, the Christian schools are widely acclaimed as the best and most desirable educational institutions. These activities serve as the cornerstone for the advancement of societies.

 

What brings hope are the recent reports have circulated indicating that the Custody of the Holy Land has been offering more than 582 houses in Jerusalem (inside and outside the Old City), as well as 72 houses in Bethlehem to Christian families. This step is designed to provide accommodation for a total of about 2,050 people, and consequently to entrench the Christian presence in these two cities in the Holy Land, and to maintain the Christian presence in the Land of Lord Jesus.

 

Christians worldwide are demanded to regularly raise funds, channel aid, and provide all possible aid to the Christians of the Holy Land so as to  ensure their steadfastness in the land of their forefathers and in the land blessed by the Lord of Mercy.