First Hand Report

Last Monday-Tuesday 26 - 27 of October a Vatican Conference about Jerusalem was held at the Latin Patriarchate, after the opening at the "Knights' Palace" Hotel (new Gate, Old City , Jsalem).

Attended by four cardinals (among whom Cal. Furno, Prefect of the Sacred Oriental Congregation and Cal. LAW of the U.S.) it was an initiative of the Holy See and of Patriarch Michel Sabbah in order to deepen the awareness of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences all over the world about the Jerusalem question.

A significant presence and participation was that of Archbishop Tauran, deputy secretary of State of the Vatican.

The Conference was restricted to the participants (Cardinals, Roman Catholic Bishops - heads or/and representatives of Bishops' Conferences of all continents, Armenian and Greek orthodox Bishops) and lecturers or "speakers" : Archbishop Tauran who presented the Holy See position and its endeavor for peace, justice and a sort of international status for Jerusalem (an other Holy Places); Patriarch Sabbah who presented the 1994 memorandum of the three Patriarchs of Jerusalem and other Heads of other Churches (in total thirteen).

M. Fayssal Husseini, Responsible for the Jerusalem question in the Palestinian National Authority and Autonomy; Mr. Hayym Ramon, ex minister of Interior and Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Member from the "Labor Party" (Avodah), a rather moderate politician who viewed the Yossi Beilin- Aboo Mazin plan to foster a wider Jerusalem and then to divide it into two cities, capitals of TWO STATES, the isr. and the palestinian.

Mr. Harry Hagopian, an Armenian Catholic prominent member of the Middle East Council of Churches presented the daily life problems of palestinians , especially christians, in Jerusalem.

Fr. Majdi Syriani, from the Latin patriarchate, pastor of Beit Sahoor (Shepherds' Field), presented a brilliant paper about the "Legal status of Jerusalem" denouncing Israel's NON compliance with the U.N. resolutions especially Security Council resolution 242...

Archbishop Timotheos from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (Secretary of Patriarch Diodoros I) about the position of his Church...

The contents of the meetings and debates were confidential, yet a general line could be seen and was stressed on in the opening ceremony and press conference: 1) The Holy See fosters an internationally guaranteed status of Jerusalem.

2) Condemns the unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel back in 1967 very soon after the israeli occupation of that part of the City.

3) Condemns the discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem and the attempt to withdraw from thousands of them their isr. identity cards.

4) Condemns alos the injustice in water and electricity supplies towards Palestinians especially in the Gaza strip...

As for me , I attended the lectures and meetings as translator (most of the time from English) into Spanish.

I am dedlighted to send this summary - but yet first hand information - to Al-Bushra and its dear readers and participants ! Let us "pray for the peace of Jerusalem".

If we receive the authorization of publishing any of the papers, we shall let you know.

A Palestinian Christian proverb says :"Jerusalem is the balance of the world". So, in order to have a peaceful world, we need a peaceful Jerusalem !

Fr. Peter Hanna Madros Correspondant of Al-Bushra website in Jerusalem

Al-Bushra http://www.al-bushra.org