FAITH AND NEW WORKS

FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM

BY MOST REV. WILLIAM MURPHY,

ARCHBISHOP OF BOSTON

ON THE PILOT, MARCH,28, 1997

No one who has visited the Holy Land ever forgets Jerusalem. Jerusalem remains in the heart of every person of faith, Christian, Jews and Muslim.

When we read about Jerusalem, see a picture of the Holy City or hear stories that take place within her walls, we experience that "tug" on our hearts: We priests pray the Psalms so many of which speak with love for Jerusalem, a love that was expressed more than once on the lips of Jesus himself. He wept over Jerusalem shortly before he willingly went to his death in the city of his love.

Now, once again, Jerusalem is being placed in the crucitbe, The very persons who love her have become instruments that shake her foundations and her peace.

I am convinced that the vast majority or the citizens of Israel as well as those of the Palestinian Authority, Jew and Muslim, Christian and secularist, want Jerusalern to be what God intended it to be: a home of peace for all those who worship God, for all those who love and respect neighbor.

The difficulty is that political forces are unable or unwilling to move beyond point scoring. This political shortsightedness plays then into the hands of the extremist who takes advantage of political maneuvers as an excuse to turn to violence and terrorist tactics. Once again we are witnessing how poisonous that combination can be as one uses the other to justify actions that do harm to one or another group who have a rightful place in Jerusalern and the Holy Land.

In any situation of this kind, responsible leaders have a solemn obligation to measure their actions against their potential negative consequences. It is not enough in these cirumstances to be acting within the law. There is more at stake than legal justification for a policy or an initiative. For the challenge to everyone is to act in such a way that confidence is built up among the Communities that live side by side so that gradually the walls of suspicion and tear be taken down.

My friend, Larry Lowenthal of the American Jewish Committee, has recently written an article in the Boston Globe defending Mr. Netenyatni's decision to build homes for 3,000 Jews in predorninantly Arab East Jerusalem. I do not dispute that Mr.Netenyahu can do this legally. I question very seriously if this decision is wise or justifiable in terms of the on good and the future of the Middle East.

We do not help the situation when we give legalistic rationales to policies and actions that inflame and cause division. The plan to build these homes in Abu-Ghneim, Har Homa area is a major act of callous indifference to the cause of peace.

Israelis will rightly point to the recent horrific acts of terrorisni by Hamas as unconscionable. They are right. Israeli's have a right to live in peace and security.

We in this country will never know how deeply unsetting it is to sense that your life is at risk in your home md your own country. For too long Jews have known hatred and persecution.

The very purpose of Israel is to make possible a Land of peace for every Jew and for those who have joined them in building a nation.

Mr. Arafat cannot make the juggling act of survival in Palestinian politics a reason not to pursue and restrain, punish and prevent these terrorists from acting out again.

There are extremists in every society and, probably, nowhere more so than in this incendiary world of the Maddle East.

Yet political leader never have the right to cater to extremists at the expense ofehe common good, freedom, security and peace. Some extremists use bombs and fire arms. Others use the Knesset and political blackmail. Both Forms should be resisted.

The small Christian community in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority areas are also victims in this shortsightedness. Christians are subject to harassment when they go to visit the shrines made holy by Jesus. The legal guarantee of free access is not enough if people do not have a sense that they too are part of this society, they too are citizens and they too can participate as equals for the good of their own faith and the good own nation.

The steady stream of Christians leaving Israel and the Holy Land is a Sign that they have not been rnade welcome in the land of their birth.

If the political leadership of Israel and the Palestirnan Authority are to prove themselves worthy of their mandate, they have a responsiblity to look honestly at the real situation of Christians and stop pretending that they have never heard of the problems and difficulties this small population experieneces.

Indeed, we must all in this holy season '"pray for the peace of Jerusalem".

Most Rev. Williarn Murphy, Archbishop of Boston,

for the March 28 issue of The Pilot.