Pope in mass voices solidarity with Christians

May 13th, 2009 - 12:08 am ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, May 12 (DPA) Pope Benedict XVI, during an open air mass in Jerusalem attended by thousands late Tuesday afternoon, expressed solidarity with the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian Christian minority.
“Standing before you today, I wish to acknowledge the difficulties, the frustration, and the pain and suffering which so many of you have endured as a result of the conflicts which have afflicted these lands,” he said in English.

“I hope my presence here is a sign that you are not forgotten,” he told a crowd of several thousand Christians gathered in a gully between the Old City of Jerusalem’s eastern walls and the city’s Mount of Olives.

“There should be no place within these walls for narrowness, discrimination, violence and injustice. Believers in a God of mercy - whether they identify themselves as Jews, Christians or Muslims - must be the first to promote this culture of reconciliation and peace,” he added.

The pontiff urged young local Christians to stay in Israel and the Palestinian territories despite their difficulties, calling the trend of emigration abroad by “so many members of the Christian community a tragic reality”.

“While understandable reasons lead many, especially the young, to emigrate, this decision brings in its wake a great cultural and spiritual impoverishment to the city,” he warned.

Jordanian-born Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, speaking before the pope, called for the establishment of a Palestinian state and also expressed hope for Israel to live “in peace and security”.

“Your visit today does much to comfort us,” said the top Roman Catholic cleric in Jerusalem.

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