They are there without their parish priest who happened to be in Bethlehem.
Another priest, Father Iusuf Asad, is currently present, along with the sisters. Unfortunately, the parish priest is absent, which is regrettable. However, this is a circumstance beyond our control.
How do Christians in the Holy Land perceive and experience the war, given that Christians in the Holy Land are predominantly Palestinians? What is the prevailing opinion among your priests and faithful?
A wide range of reactions has been evident, with a common rejection of violence prevailing among all. However, emotions sometimes run high, particularly among Palestinians living in Palestine, where their anger is deeply felt. Nevertheless, we are unified in our collective rejection of these methods and in our call for a more serious approach to addressing the Palestinian issue.
It has been known that the Holy See has always considered the resolution of the Palestinian issue to be important. Is it even conceivable to have any kind of relationship now, while bombs and explosions are echoing? Is there any hope at this moment to find a key to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
As I’ve mentioned before, finding a solution is imperative, but it’s not a task for the present moment. We have to wait for the current situation to conclude before resuming discussions, and when we do, it should be approached with increased seriousness and commitment. The aim should be to provide the Palestinian people with a hopeful perspective for the future.
And these recent events only deepen the victimhood role experienced by both the Israeli and Palestinian people. In such a situation, how can one find a way out and shift away from that narrative?
It is indeed a challenging situation. Each side perceives itself as a victim and focuses on its own pain, often without recognizing the suffering of the other. This is a fundamental issue that we must address. The approach should involve working with those who comprehend the problem and share a vision of changing this narrative. To start, there is a need for a period of stability. We can begin by introducing a different narrative, primarily in schools and with the involvement of local leadership. Our efforts, such as those in Christian schools, can serve as a way to promote dialogue and unity among people.
In addition to the division between the conflicting parties, there has been a noticeable strong division in the media, in societies, and in the political life worldwide between those who have taken a pro-Israel stance and those who support Palestine. How should a believer in Croatia, for example, approach the current situation? Because lives are being lost on both sides; everyone is at a loss...
A partial approach, where everyone adheres to their individual ideas and filters information based on their preexisting opinions, is inherently problematic. It limits the ability to see the complete and intricate picture, which, in this case, is exceptionally complex. We must avoid the temptation to oversimplify a complex situation. Instead, approach should be one of respect and understanding, refraining from premature judgments and offering support to those who wish to condemn past violence while striving to create a more positive context.
As a Catholic bishop, how do you foresee the situation developing in the Holy Land?
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It is too early to fully comprehend the situation; we need time. Right now, it’s a period of pain, sorrow, and anger. We have to wait until these emotions subside before we can begin to reflect on the situation. Nevertheless, we must approach this reflection with a focus on the facts and reality. The reality is that Israelis and Palestinians will remain here; they will not disappear. Therefore, we have to find a way to engage with one another differently, moving away from the current state of affairs.