He also spoke of the need for the presence of Christians in public life, pointing to the media as a way for Christian citizens to "assume their historic role," express values of non-violence and encourage dialogue with believers of other religions.
"We are a minority but we are more than just a number," he said.
"I encourage all our faithful to live this Year of Faith in earnest," he added, invoking the first Christians of Jerusalem as a "model for renewal."
The patriarch thanked those who had participated in interreligious initiatives and stressed the ability of religious leaders to work for peace if they work together. However, he said the meetings did not prevent "an increase in a certain religious radicalism."
"Interreligious dialogue can only bear fruits in acts of mutual respect," he said, voicing "dismay" at the ongoing desecrations of churches, convents, synagogues and cemeteries in the Holy Land.
In February, the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem was vandalized with the words "Death to Christians." Early in the morning of Sept. 4, vandals set fire to the door of the Latroun Monastery near Jerusalem and spray painted the walls with blasphemous phrases about Jesus in Hebrew.
Another vandal attack happened Oct. 2 on the Convent of St. Francis on Mt. Zion, next to the Cenacle complex traditionally regarded as the site of the Last Supper. The graffiti attack derided Jesus and used a phrase common among Israeli extremists for a revenge attack on Palestinians and Arabs.
Such incidents have drawn wide condemnation from other religions and from the Israeli government. Patriarch Twal called for education of young people in schools to "take out the evil at its root."
Turning to other interreligious issues, the patriarch said the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council is a chance for "an examination of conscience" about Catholics' dialogue with Judaism and Islam.
Christian ecumenical events in the past year have included the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril of Moscow's visit in early November. Holy Land Catholic leaders reached an agreement to celebrate Easter on a common date in the region. Many Christian delegations attended the enthronement of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II in Cairo.
Christian emigration is a problem for the Middle East, but Patriarch Twal said such emigration is slowing. He noted Church efforts to provide housing and job training for young people. Most immigrants into the patriarchate are Christians, he said.
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In addition to issuing a Christmas message, Patriarch Twal officiated at the first ever Christmas tree lighting at Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate on Dec. 18 with other bishops, priests, vowed religious and lay faithful.