2012-09-25 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) – “How can we fail to thank God at every moment for all of you, dear Christians of the Middle East!”: this is how Pope Benedict XVI chose to open his special roadmap for the future of the Church in the Middle East, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. He begins by giving thanks for the estimated 180 thousand Christian men, women and children who count for only 2% of the Holy Land’s entire population. But as the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, William Shomali, tells Vatican Radio, what matters is making that 2% count, and to do this they need our help.
A little over a week has passed since the Pope handed this post-Synodal document over to the Church leaders in the region, but already it has become a point of discussion and animation among the Christian communities there. According to Bishop Shomali, the document confirms the Christians in their primary mission: To remain in the Holy Land. Emer McCarthy reports Listen
“In this exhortation he speaks about the importance of Christians remaining in the Middle East . Now we are 5% in all the Middle East, but 2% in the Holy Land. I don’t believe that one day the Holy Land will be emptied of Christians. Although the percentage is dropping each year, I believe that some Christians will remain in the Holy Land. But we have to work on that on three different levels. The first level to give them a spiritual and theological motivation. Remaining in the Holy Land is the will of the Lord, it’s a vocation and a call. Its not only fatalism. This reason is very, very important. More important than the two other levels.
Secondly, the moral motivation and incentive to remain. The pilgrims who come to the Holy Land and meet Christians and Christian communities they are a big, big support to us. We feel we are not abandoned and alone.
Thirdly the material level. Support for all the projects of the different dioceses, the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, the Good Friday collection etc.. The money all goes to support education, healthcare and construction of houses for Christians.
I am sure that the Lord would never allow the disappearance of the Christian presence from the Holy Land. The Lord will always support us. And I have a paradox to tell; While we were 10% in the Holy Land 150 years ago we were only 21 thousand Christians. Now that we are only 2% between Israel and the Palestinian territories we are 180 thousand. You can understand that the Lord really is working in our favor”.