In his final Easter address, Latin-rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah assured the people of his continued prayers for peace in the region. The patriarch is expected to step down from his position today, his 75th birthday.
In his address on the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s website, Archbishop Sabbah stated that though he is retiring, he will continue to work for justice and peace for the people of Jerusalem.
“I shall work with every seeker of justice and peace until all the inhabitants of this land will live in security and tranquility, in the presence of God Almighty, merciful and full of love to all his creatures. For the sake of all our faithful in our Churches of Jerusalem, and all believers from all religions in this land, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Baha'is, I shall pray, and extend my love to all.”
He also expressed the need for leaders to set an example by choosing peace for their people. “There are hundreds of thousands in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies who send an outcry: peace… peace. And they are ready to make ‘peace now’. But we see also extremists on both sides who are prisoners of their own ideologies and call in the name of God to kill their brothers, while God tells them all: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. We are in need of leaders who can make peace because this is the sole path to put an end to extremism and to start the true way towards security and tranquility. To say that peace is a risk that we cannot take means to keep all of us in the cycle of death and violence. The leaders have to choose between two paths: either peace or increasing extremism and insecurity. We need leaders who are ready to offer their lives for the sake of peace not leaders who issue orders to kill and assassinate and send others to kill or to get killed.”
“We celebrate the feast of the glorious Resurrection, which is the triumph of Jesus Christ over death and sin. God grants this power to every human being so that he can prevail over evil within his soul and the evil surrounding him. He grants us all the power to transform hatred and death into trust and love and life that was gifted to us through the Resurrection.”
“We believe in God and we believe that God is good and His goodness will one day defeat the evil of people who claim that they want to build and maintain security, while their actions transform security into a mirage. It is high time to take new security measures that respect the human being and bring him closer to peace rather than death.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, this is my last Easter Message as a Patriarch of the Holy Land. I have said earlier and I repeat: I shall continue to pray and walk with you on the difficult path of peace and justice, and on the path of sanctity that God requires from anyone who wants to live and rule this land. I wish everyone a Happy and Holy Easter and a new life full of the spirit and grace of God.”
Archbishop Michel’s successor will likely be Bishop Fuad Twal who was named coadjutor bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2005.