JERUSALEM!

What is the TRUTH?

FROM THE "MEMORANDUM OF THEIR BEATITUDES THE PATRIARCHS

AND OF THE HEADS OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES IN JERUSALEM"

ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JERUSALEM FOR CHRISTIANS

November 14, 1994

Present Positions

When the different sides involved now speak of Jerusalem, they often assume exclusivist positions. Their claims are very divergent, indeed conflicting. The Israeli position is that Jerusalem should remain the unified and eternal capital of the State of Israel, under the absolute sovereignty of Israel alone. The Palestinians, on the other hand, insist that Jerusalem should become the capital of a future State of Palestine, although they do not lay claim to the entire modern city but envisage only the eastern, Arab part.

Lesson of History

Jerusalem has had a long, eventful history. It has known numerous wars and conquests, has been destroyed time and again, only to be reborn anew and rise from its ashes, like the mythical Phoenix. Religious motivation has always gone hand in hand with political and cultural aspirations, and has often played a preponderant role. This motivation has often led to exclusivism or at least to the supremacy of one people over the others. But every exclusivity or every human supremacy is against the prophetic character of Jerusalem. Its universal vocation and appeal is to be a city of peace and harmony among all who dwell therein. Jerusalem, like the entire Holy land, has witnessed throughout its history the successive advent of numerous peoples: they came from the desert, from the sea, from the north, from the east. Most often the newcomers were gradually integrated into the local population. This was a rather constant characteristic. But when the newcomers tried to claim exclusive possession of the city and the land, or refused to integrate themselves, then the others rejected them. Indeed, the experience of history teaches us that in order for Jerusalem to be a city of peace, no longer lusted after from the outside and thus a bone of contention between warring sides, it cannot belong exclusively to one people or to only one religion. Jerusalem should be open to all, shared by all. Those who govern the city should make it "the capital of humankind." This universal vision of Jerusalem would help those who exercise power there to open it to others who also are fondly attached to it and to accept sharing it with them.

Signed by: Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Latin Patriarch, Armenian Patriarch, Custos or the Holy Land, Coptic Archbishop, Syriac Archbishop, Ethiopian Archbishop, Anglican Bishop, Greek-Cath. Patriarc. Vicar, Lutheran Bishop, Maronite Patriarchal Vicar, Cath. Syriac Patriarc.Vicar.

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