Bishop Shomali urges Christians all over the world to pray for the peace of the Holy Land.
“Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace is accord harmony”
Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, Israel. Articulating in context of the Israel-Hamas war, as an aftermath of which, withdrawal of Christians from the Holy Land, has intensified he stated that only lasting peace can barricade this Exodus.
In his conversation with Aid to the Church in need, Bishop Shomali explained, the need for peace to curtail the oozing of Christians from Israel and the Palestinian territories. Bishop Shomali held: “Peace creates a very positive atmosphere. Without it, there is insecurity and the economic situation becomes precarious. Then, work must be created.”
Reflecting on Pope Benedict’s new admonition Ecclesia in Medio Oriente ( The Church in theMiddle East), he said that Christians inhabiting Israel and Palestine are called to witness to their Christian faith.
He said: “But spiritual encouragement and holding on to faith are of the greatest importance because being Christian in the Holy Land is not issuing from a simple coincidence – it is a vocation.If the Christians consider it a privilege to be born in the Holy Land and have a testimony of faith to share, they will be motivated and this spiritual motivation is worth more than all material motivations.”
Recounting the problems of Palestinian Christians, he mentioned that the Christians face the same dilemma as other Palestinians, such as unemployment, restrictions on movement. He went on to say that the situation in Bethlehem is on the whole dismal. “In Bethlehem, people suffer on welfare. Thirty percent of young people have no work,” said Bishop Shomali. “However, the more pilgrimages there are, the more the tourist industry functions, and then the more work there is to be had. Last month for example, there were several thousand pilgrims,” he added.
Bishop Shomali bespoke his fear that the eight-day war between Israel and Hamas would wreck the country’s economy. He implied, “Israel has also suffered from all the rockets launched by Hamas and which hit Bethlehem. Thankfully there was a cease-fire, for war is the most negative experience one can live.”
He stressed that only God can provide for a perfect and long lasting peace and that the conflict between Israel and Hamas is like an incurable disease, but with God nothing is impossible.
By Madeeha Shakeel