Patriarch’s Christmas message offers Middle East hope

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Amid continuing turmoil in the Middle East, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem sent a message of hope and support to Christians of the region.

“It is a very difficult situation. We have to support them. They must not lose hope,” the patriarch said at a Dec. 21 news conference where he delivered his Christmas message. “We are not alone, many people, including the Vatican, are concerned about the situation and this gives more hope.”

Though he said he was concerned about the continuing struggle and bloodshed in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, in his message, Patriarch Twal expressed support for the political changes occurring and urged Christians in the region to become involved so they are not excluded from the movements.

He defended “the changes taking place in favor of freedom and democracy. We want our Christian faithful to be involved and not feel foreign in this movement,” he said. “They have full citizenship. It is their land, their country, their present, their future.”

In his message, the patriarch emphasized the need for the protection of human rights and respect for the dignity of people during these times.

“I also hope and pray that competent authorities make every effort to calm the spirits, without violence, and to protect the minorities who are an integral part of the population in the region.” Patriarch Twal’s message said. “We must grasp this moment of opportunity to build a new society based on equal citizenship for all.”

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