Concerned about Arab-Chritians

I am particularly concerned with the plight of Arab
Christians, as they seem to have been forgotten with the current focus on
Islam....I thought Arafat was a Muslim, why then, was he even an issue at a
midniight Mass?

Dear friend:

Thanks for your question.
Fellows what i think as representative of the Catholic Church of Jerusalem in the USA (The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

You can find a lot of things about the Arab-Christians and their history on my website at christians  of Al-Bushra.org

1) Actually we, Arab-Christians are the first to be converted to Chritianity as you may read on Acts of the Aposltes 2: 11
2) St. Paul when converted at the gates of Damascus, he lived for three years with the Arabs Galates 1:17 (he says that he did not go to meet St. Peter in Jerusalem, but went to Arabs, because he was afraid to be killed by the Jews as new convertyed to Chritianity when he had to bring the Christians from Damascus to be judged and perhaps put in jail and killed by the High Priests).
3) The Fist father of the Church are Arab-Christians, including St. John of Damascus, St. Augustin from Cathage, St. Cyrill of Jerusalem, St. Cyrill of Alexandria ...
4) The fisrt monachism and religious live started in our lands, in the Palestinian, Jordanina, Syrian or Egyptian deserts and Libanese mountains
5) The first transltaions of the Bible from Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac and Grec was started by our Arab Scholars.

6) In fact Christmas as Holy Week and Easter have been celebrated for over 2000 years by Arab Christians and not by the Christians of the West. We are proud to be Chritians before any other people and fear for our Catholic, Apostolic faith for 2000 years.
7) As for Arafat, he is a Muslim married to a Christian woman. For centuries in the History of Christmas the governor, the king of the palce used to come to the Midnight mass with the foreign embassadors. (That is why the Patriarch used to say the Homily in French Language as the Internatiojnal Language). Arfat for 6 years contiuned this traddition of 2000 years. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME ever the Local authority did not come to the Midnight mass, BECAUSE OF THE DECISION OF SHARON and the SILENCE of many cpountries including the USA.

The Vatican have asked Israel to change its decision, because Arafat was going from Ramallah which is under his control to Bethelehem under his control also. Israel refused.  (http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/vatican3.html) Imagine that an authority probits you to go from your living room to your bedroom because they control the hall way. This is what happed to Arafat.

This also made the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem to say:
Christmas Homily 2001 Brothers and sisters Mister  President Yaser Arafat 1. A very happy Christmas to you all. On this holy night I pray to God for you all in this Holy Land and for all our faithful in every part of our Diocese, in Palestine, Jordan, Israel and Cyprus, and to all the Christians, Moslems and Jews, that he may grant you every goodness and blessing. 2. I would like to offer a special greeting to President Yaser Arafat prevented by a political decision to participate, as is his custom, in this prayer on this night. For you, President Arafat, we ask God to give you peace of soul, the strength of peace and the hope and firmness to reclaim peace for the people for whom you are responsible until their liberty is re-established. The limitation imposed on your liberty is the same as that imposed to your people. The pathway to Bethlehem, and above all Christmas day, is a pathway of peace. With this we also tell the governors of Israel: peace and security. We also pray for you that you are granted wisdom and light, in order to see that the road toward Bethlehem can be only a road of peace, and in a particular way with the presence of  President Arafat. Mister president, you were never as present in the city and the feast in which you venerate God's mystery.

You can read the whole homily at: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/patriarch.html

He invites the Israelis and the world to understand the situation of the Palestinians, he says:

"Our situation today is similar to the one described by the prophet Jeremiah: "If I go into the countryside, there lie men killed by sword; if I go into the city, I see people sick with hunger; even prophets and priests plow the land: they are at their wit’s end…We were hoping for peace – no good came out of it! For the moment of cure – nothing but terror" (Jer 14, 18-10). Yes, the terror fills the hearts of the Israelis, and the Palestinians. And one says: terror, and by this word one thinks to find the pretext not to make the peace. One says terror, and one refuses to see and to hear innocents and men and women like all men and all women who ask for their liberty and their land. It is time that the Israeli people ask himself with courage: for what do Palestinians ask? And to understand that they don't want to kill and to hate, but they ask for the liberty for themselves, and the security for the Israelis will be the fruit of this liberty." ... ". Brothers and sisters, from Bethlehem we pray with you where you are in this holy night. We pray for our president Arafat, present among us. We pray for the prisoners and we put before God their sufferings. We pray for the justice and the peace in the hearts of the Israelis and the Palestinians. We pray for the governors of this world so that God guides them, in order to become capable to hear the screaming of all oppressed. We pray so that God fill our hearts of his love and his peace."
 

He also calls on us to take a stand specially the Arab-Christians of the Middle East:

"The conflict that we live also has a Christian dimension; it takes place indeed around the holy places of the Redemption of the world, where God's mercy appeared. And it threatens the survival of the Christians in this land. It is why, we tell all Palestinian Christian looking for his identity and his mission in this tormented land: you are a Christian and witness to Jesus in his land, and you are Palestinian deprived from your liberty. It is necessary therefore that you be Christian and it is necessary that you ask for your liberty. Your liberty is God's gift; you don't have the right, for no reason, to resign before any strong power in this world. Your identity consists in testifying to Jesus, to his love, to his peace, to the forgiveness, to see God in all human person, in the brother as in the adversary, and with this vision and with the strength of the mind you ask for your liberty, without losing and without distorting God's picture in you or in the soul of the adversary from whom you ask for your liberty."

You can read the whole homily at: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/patriarch.html
 

I join you in your prayers for justice, Peace and TRUTH.