Loading
Amid struggle, Palestinian Christians look ahead to Christmas
Bethlehem Church of the Nativity grotto. Credit: ACN www.acnuk.org.
Bethlehem Church of the Nativity grotto. Credit: ACN www.acnuk.org.

.- Armed conflicts and a decline in tourists and pilgrims from overseas will cause difficulties for Palestinian Christians, but they will still celebrate Christmas.

“There are good and bad feelings this Christmas but if we consider that Christmas is above all a spiritual feast, I believe it will be a very good celebration,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem told Aid to the Church in Need Dec. 17.

“There will certainly be fewer pilgrims and other visitors from overseas. Many have canceled their trips here but we will still have many people coming from Galilee and elsewhere as well as many Christians from Bethlehem.”

Christians have been cheered by the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas party, which put a halt to renewed violence after rocket attacks from Gaza militants prompted retaliation from the Israeli military.

Bishop Shomali said that local Christians also appreciate the United Nations’ recognition of Palestine as a non-member state.

“For Christians in and around Bethlehem, Christmas this year will be joyful because of the U.N. recognition of the Palestinian state,” he said. “This has given people a lot of morale and indeed is seen by many as a victory.”

However, continuing violence in neighboring Syria, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict between rebel forces and the Syrian government, continues to cause concern.

“What is happening in Syria casts a dark shadow. It impacts on us very greatly. We are not happy with what is happening in Syria. We are anxious and sad about the situation there,” the bishop said.

Aid to the Church in Need is supporting several charitable projects including the Bethlehem Seminary and Solidarity Village, a low-cost housing project for young Christians in East Jerusalem. The charity also supports families who make crosses, cribs and other olive wood religious items that the international Catholic pastoral charity sells.

Israeli security concerns have caused major problems for Bethlehem Christians. Travel restrictions mean few can leave their West Bank city to work and tourists have difficulty entering.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, Aid to the Church in Need’s U.K. director, launched a prayer appeal for peace between Israel and Palestine on Nov. 25.

“The Christian community must not stand back hoping that conflicts like this will burn themselves out. We have to act now for the people,” he said. “Our Lord prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. We must pray too for the peace of Jerusalem and the wider Middle East.”

Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem has thanked Aid to the Church in Need for its prayer campaign.

Tags: Christmas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
16

Liturgical Calendar

April 16, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Gospel
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 50:4-9a
Gospel:: Mt 26:14-25

Homily of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Homily
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: