The Arab Patriarch
12.3.1999

With millions of people over the world, I was watching his beatitude the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, speaking on Al'Jazeera (The Island) satellite channel. The Patriarch was an authentic ARAB personality, and as the first Arab Patriarch for Jerusalem, he was sincere, clear, objective and logic. By his short speeches, he appeared as a Christian Arab person who regards his con-citizen the Muslim as his Bloodbrother with whom he has a common Language, Nationality and Destiny.

Nazareth, as being the main subject who had the Lion Portion of the questions and subjects. Its' logic because of the latest event to be happened not far away from the\e Annunciation Basilica of Nazareth. Here, the patriarch put his finger on the WOUND: the problem for him is not a problem between the Bloodbrothers the Muslims and the Christians but it happened because there is a THIRD PART who entered without permission between the 2 brothers who has all the historic common wounds but also the same ambitions of better future. Speaking Arabic for all the Muslims of the world, HB said: I’m not against building a Mosque, I am against the APPAERNECE that Israel wants the Mosque in order to making the division between the brothers. This fact said by the patriarch is a dangerous FACT, but I am afraid the NO BODY is listening.

Putting a vision for the future of this problem, HB spoke about some main POINTS:
1) He refused to speak about the VIOLENCE it’s not our way, it’s not our language, we are Christians… As if he says: These words don’t exist in our Dictionary.

2) The Christians, in spite of being a small minority, they have all the rights to speak, to express their feelings and to say to the world that they are suffering from any problem that they may face with – or because- of their bloodbrothers.

3) Nazareth has been in peace between the Muslims and the Christians, the last problem, which is exceptional and temporary, made by Israel must be resolved by The ARABS AND MUSLIMS who are against the building of the Mosque in it’s actual plan and where “a small group or community of fanatic Muslims” put the first stone. It’s a call from a sincere Arab patriarch to all the Arabs and Muslims in the world to try to work for this purpose. HB….. The Arab countries who\o was with him or let us say with the logic, he mentioned the Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority… Let us work together, the Patriarch was repeating for many times.

4) Without the provocation of building the mosque, why not, says the patriarch, building a cultural center for Muslims which will be useful for the Interreligious Dialogue for the 3 Monotheistic religions? This issue was written by the Chancellor of the Patriarcate, Fr Raed Awad, but the proposal has been refused by the small group of fanatic Muslims in Nazareth.
 

Many other subjects has been studies carefully by the HB, many questions from his interlocutor Ahmed Mansour (who is Muslim of course) and many questions by some viewers of the program. But I can tell you that the Patriarch was strong and always in the Truth’s side and nothing else than the truth. Here are some of the subjects about what spoke the Patriarch:
 

        1.. Emigration of Christians out of the Holy Land and the other Arab Countries, Here, HB encourages every one to STAY in spite of the difficulties of life> Stay at your Home Land and share this life with all your brothers and sisters the Muslims. We are not persecuted because we are Christians, and what happened in Nazareth is not the RULE or the Normal life. The Church needs you and the Country needs you. He also invited the immigrants to come back home, if this would possible for them as for their children. Who are the generations to come.
 

        2.. There was a question about the interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the Patriarch said that in listening for the Muslim, I can know who is he and vice versa. This the first basement of the Dialogue the second one that we have many approaches in studying the different aspects of the human life and of our societies, such as the Child the Woman, the seniors etc…

        Here, I say that the patriarch is day after day a great international personality because he follows the pace of Dialogue as a MAIN STREET which leads for the other, or for the “neighbor” that Jesus didn’t press him in certain faces or persons or peoples. All of us, we stand ONE in front of the Lord who is our ONE father in Heaven.

        Here, I can mention also that the dialogue is the policy of the Catholic Church and of the patriarcate, for just an example, Fr Dr Ashraf Nimri has just finished the defend of his Doctorate in the Islamo -Christian Dialogue in Jordan, as reality and prospective. Without mentioning Mgr. Khaled Akasheh, also from the Patriarcate who is actually a Secretary in the Vatican Council for the Inter-religious Dialogue.
 

        3.. The great Jubilee for the Patriarch is a special occasion to renovate the Church, but also to see the Church as ONE as Christ preyed for her to be. The celebrations of the Jubilee will be held in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth if this one will reach to have peace among ALL the citizens.
 

Finally, here in Jordan and I think in everywhere of our Small World, we were watching the TV Satellite of Al-Jazeera, with great emotion and pride. Its’ a pride of the fact that the Christians could FINALLY speak on the in an Arab media, As the patriarch said also, our attitudes toward many problems in the Arab Countries as toward many international Problems, ARE CLEAR and HUMAN, but the fact of being misunderstood is not from what we say, but from how the ARAB MEDIA explains it and studies it… WE are proud that finally the Arab world begins to hear all the sides of any problem…

Upon my personal background about the Patriarch Michel Sabbah, he doesn’t do long speeches. In Arabic we have a proverb which says that “little talk, more meanings”… On al-Jazeera, HB was a hard evidence for that.

With my best wishes for everybody

Fr Rif’at Bader,

Smakieh-Jordan