CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Holy See lauds recognition of Palestine but calls for all out push for peace

AMMAN (SE): The Holy See has expressed its support for Palestinian statehood and applauded the overwhelming November 29 decision of the United Nations (UN) to grant the troubled territory the status of a non-member official observer state.

Vatican Radio reported on November 30, “The Holy See has followed actively the steps which have led to this important decision, while striving to remain neutral between the parties and to act in accordance with its particular religious nature and universal mission, and in consideration also of its specific attention to the ethical dimension of international problems.”

It called for recognition of the decision of the 138 countries to back to motion in the UN as an effort to find a definitive solution, as the Holy See claims that the matter has been officially dealt with in Resolution 181 of the General Assembly of the UN on 29 November 1947.

“That document is the juridical basis for the existence of two states, one of which has not been constituted in the successive 65 years, while the other has already seen the light,” a Vatican communiqué says.

It then quotes from a speech made by Pope Benedict XVI at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on 15 May 2009 during an official visit to the Holy Land.

“No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war! Instead let us break the vicious circle of violence. Let there be lasting peace based on justice, let there be genuine reconciliation and healing. Let it be universally recognised that the state of Israel has the right to exist and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agreed borders.

“Let it be likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign independent homeland, to live with dignity and to travel freely. Let the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream,” he proclaimed.

In the wake of the pope’s words, the secretary for relations with states from the Vatican, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, told the UN General Assembly in 2011 that the Holy See hoped the competent bodies of the UN would adopt a decision giving concrete implementation to the dream expressed by the pope.

“Today’s vote manifests the sentiment of the majority of the international community and recognises a more significant presence to Palestinians within the UN,” the Vatican communiqué states.

“At the same time, it is the conviction of the Holy See that this result does not constitute, per se, a sufficient solution to the existing problems in the region, which, in fact, can only find an adequate response through the effective commitment to building peace and stability, in justice and in the respect for legitimate aspirations, both of the Israelis and of the Palestinians,” it continues.

The communiqué points out that the Holy See has always promoted a restart of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, by inviting leaders of the two peoples to talk in good faith and to avoid placing conditions on each other that are impossible to meet or doing anything that would be considered a contradiction of each other’s good will.

It notes that such conditions are a necessary pre-condition for laying the foundations for a true and lasting peace.

It also says that it is encouraging the international community to respect the position of both sides in the dispute and to adopt policies that encourage dialogue and cooperation rather than violence and aggression.

“Peace needs courageous decisions,” it states.

It also appeals for respect for the religious interests of the world’s Christians, saying, “It is a propitious occasion to recall also the common position that the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation expressed in the Basic Agreement of 15 February 2000, intended to support the recognition of a internationally guaranteed special statute for the City of Jerusalem and, aimed in particular to safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a holy city, respect for and freedom of access to its holy places.”

On the day before the historic vote was taken in the UN, the bishops of Palestine issued a statement saying that Christians in Palestine give their wholehearted support to the government of Mahmoud Abbas.

“The Holy Land Churches unanimously support the Palestinian National Authority’s accomplishment. The soul and prayers of the Holy Land’s Christians ask for this step to be taken,” Archbishop Maroun Laham, the Latin patriarchal vicar general in Jordan told Fides on November 28.

The archbishop said that he believes that every step taken towards recognition of Palestine as a state is progress, adding that it has come a long way since it was a land of nomadic refugees with no land on which they could place their feet.

He said, “The recognition of the Palestinian state as an observer at the UN will have significant practical consequences. For example, Palestine will be able to turn to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to denounce the attacks against the human rights of Palestinians.”

A parish priest in Ramallah, Father Raed Abusahliah, told Fides on November 28, “If things go as they should, on Sunday I will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving, inviting representatives of the Palestinian Authority.”

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