best canadian online pharmacy for viagra how soon should i ovulate after taking clomid accutane and initial breakout lasix for dogs reviews atorvastatin and myalgia help getting plavix anyone taken buspar for irritability neurontin y dolor neuropatico doxycycline hyclate 100 mg and exposure to sun allegra iluminacion how to take clomid 150mg microzide 12.5 mg side effects tamsulosin basics 0 4 mg hartkaps retard plavix vs aspirin for cats with heart disease zoloft effectiveness for anxiety kamagra oral jelly brisbane how many days before flagyl works fluoxetine tablets ip 20 mg buy mirtazapine for cats how long can you take fluconazole side effects prednisone low does 5mg does walmart make generic allegra escherichia coli resistente a ciprofloxacina lisinopril hctz and loss of appetite fluconazole tablets uk strattera causing premature ejaculation celecoxib online is paxil an upper zofran 5mg amoxicillin effect on period just started cymbalta buy sublingual cialis 60 pills ciprofloxcin suspension from cadila azithromycin macs aripiprazole in pregnancy and lactation a case report cmimi i cialis ma il dostinex fa ingrassare purchase tadalafil buy furosemide for tinnitus uk can antibiotics clesr demodex mites levofloxacin vial can 100 mg of gabapentin for restless leg seem drowse kegunaan salep zovirax plavix patent expiry uk singulair montelukast en mexico nexium breastfeeding side effects tamoxifen conditional expression levitra viagra nebenwirkungen augmentin cena zamiennik purchase zyban online when does anxietynwear off on sertraline how to take phenergan suppository buy conjugated estrogens can you get high off strattera how long do antibiotics affect birth control webmd ventolin versus berodual clopidogrel 10mg paroxetine research metronidazole infusion side effect clomid e dia fertil cutting lexapro dosage hair loss cada cuanto se aplica el aciclovir buy propecia generic finasteride imipramine hcl 10 mg tablet side effects purchase singulair online buspar sleep paralysis can an overdose of phenergan kill you how to take colchicine houde 6 tablets prednisone burst dosing dermatitis doxycycline esophageal erosion accord quetiapine xr 200 mg used for insomnia kegunaan obat flagyl benzoyl metronidazole lamisil at vs lotrimin af adalat crono 20 effetti collaterali kamagra kaufen in holland clopidogrel online purchase lexapro tricyclic drug bupropion and lexapro and tiredness lasix causa dependencia lamisil and onychomycosis what kind of std do augmentin 1g cure escitalopram generic vision eyesight zovirax tabletas 400 mg para que sirve can you take benadryl and zofran together side effects of stopping lexapro reflux costo cialis 20 mg farmacia seroquel prolong korvattavuus where to buy terbinafine granules sertraline oesophagitis cytotec taquicardia viagra 100 auckland como comprar viagra en puerto montt antibiotics without insurance ventolin spray prospect tetracycline to treat bv cipro side effect sore throat zyprexa 30 mg dose prednisone information australia ilosone 250 suspension can 2.5mg lexapro work for anxiety can i take tynenol pm with tamoxifen allegra vaistai medroxyprogesterone acetate what does a prescription of cialis cost diflucan 600 unable to drink alcohol while on paroxetine diet go xenical is 5mg lexapro a high dose zovirax tablet vs cream mixing levitra and cialis bactrim ds clearance buy zithromax online ireland buy sildenafil actavis dogs with syringomyelia wean off prednisone como tomo metformina para adelgazar healthy man viagra purchase clomid online canada can i take maxalt with nyquil voltaren emulgel at superdrug 100mg does zoloft cause sleep drunkenness 20 mg vs 5 mg cialis amoxicillin ibuprofen nhs popular brandsn of viagra in pakistan atenolol arrow 100 mg voltaren 12.5 diclofenac natr order hydroxyzine amoxil 250 mg in pakistan betaloc and inderal lisinopril vs captopril conversion can you get pregnant on first cycle of clomid taking two nexium .083 albuterol nebulizer solution for 7 year old dark urine bc of metronidazole zyprexa eyaculacion how many kilos can you lose taking xenical zovirax 200mg filmtabletten cara menggunakan cytotec pra seroquel overdose side effects equivalent viagra in uae levitra orodispersible 20mg vaistas quetiapine can fluconazole 150 cause bleeding nizoral shampoo funciona bactrim online will 500mg of azithromycin cure ngu where to buy levitra in greenville sc at a good price generic mircette birth control el tamoxifeno hace doler los huesos how to prepare viagra for women does lexapro cause sweating metformin sciatica jaki jest prawidlowy wynik estradiolu prednisone 5mg vs hiv testing minimm recommended course cipro acne brakke ofloxacin bactrim ds dose skin infection cuanto salen pastillas d misoprostol 40 mg prednisone for 5 days for poison ivy does insomnia from lexapro wear off gonal f better than clomid how to prevent weight gain after going off topiramate can bactrim cause leukocytes zofran 8 mg safe during pregnancy stopping savella cold turkey and starting prozac nexium na gravidez cialis e insufficienza renale vibramycin doxycycline hyclate necesito receta para comprar cytotec en ensenada voltaren gel costco canada can spironolactone cause thyroid problems nexium tablet dissolution metronidazole for ingrown toenail cytotec 600mg zydus flagyl that i can buy overshelf will naprosyn 500 mg get you high levothyroxine and essential oils metformin xr pcos topiramate toxic buildup cost of generic lexapro at walgreens side effects of amlodipine vs felodipine cardura 8 mg fiyat dosis de levofloxacino en perros aldactone hereisthebestin reviews acyclovir 800mg para que sirve 60 benazepril gabapentin pregnancy tests flomax e pillola amoxicillin for uti how long how does aspirin affect hydrochlorothiazide 12.5 how long does it take cialis c5 to get in your system should i stop cialis before surgery azithromycin teva uk 5ml of periactin can i take a 5 mg. while taking ciprofloxacin 500mg. single dose zithromax online yahoo answer does finasteride cause zits is levitra still effective a day after usage wie geht viagra azithromycin cancel birth control prednisone tablet philippines abilify restlessness goes away can i cut h102 metformin in half tips on trying to conceive on clomid antibiotics ovulating dog viagra and nitrostat pct clomid how long metoprolol 50 mg dosis aciclovir 200 mg para herpes zoster cymbalta neutropenia baclofen interactions ibuprofen bupropion isnt working akathisia after stop taking celexa prednisone 20 mg for saitic nerve withdrawal buy elavil howdotofound metformin and india ciprofloxacina 500 reacciones adversas how many pill come in valtrex canada socialist policies switzerland linezolid associated lactic acidosis lisinopril athletes price flagyl for enjection nizoral 2 for psoriasis cymbalta compounding nizoral sachete can you take ibuprofen prednisone together hydrocortisone accutane lips phenergan false positive pregnancy test can take cialis 80mg daily plavix 75 mg dosage cialis diario valor skin pigmentation during topiramate cephalexin bad breath cefixime and linezolid contains viagra shopers drug mart generic voltaren ophthalmic azithromycin walgreen 100 micrograms synthroid topamax 100mg how long does the side effects last amoxicillin syrup price paxil costco propecia price pharmacy ciprofloxacin comprimate filmate donde consigo cytotec en piura prednisone and increased urination atorvastatin ratiopharm 30 mg can prednisone be stopped at 5 mg do wellbutrin and cymbalta cause low blood sugar does hydrochlorothiazide cause depression sildenafil kosten krankenkasse how fast does lexapro take to work using generic sildenafil instead of viagra what does a diflucan cream look like norvasc common dosages clomipramine 10 cipro chemotherapy estradiol growth factors ampicillin sulbactam brand name in india ciprofloxacin 250 mg tagesdosis increasing wellbutrin xl dosage augmentin 375 mg filmtabletta clopidogrel plogrel 75mg ampicillin tr ondansetron side effects elderly buy fluconazole 500mg lamisil cream nz dose l thyroxine christiaens 125 mg clomipramine 50 mg capsule prednisone 10 mg 6 day pack side effects renal dose linezolid dexamethasone tablet for camel phenergan po onset cheapest viagra with prescription metformin contraindicated with elevated creatinine how can buy viagra in chennai boots viagra sales que pasa si no estas embarazada y tomas cytotec levothyroxine and melasma does 300 g of gabapentinhave any long term.effects augmentin maximum daily dose taking amoxicillin for long periods of time dog amoxicillin uses prednisone muscle problems zovirax tablets uk trazodone and percocet atenolol 50mg and amlodipine dose50mg indocin sr 75 mg capsule can you buy nitroglycerin at walmart will zithromax treat chlamydia will the higher dose of cialis work better orslim orlistat 120mg reviews buspirone causing insomnia zofran dosage orders for morning sickness prednisone effects on temperature montelukast sodium tablets para q sirve ciproxin dekking propecia effets secondaires linezolid iv prescription assistance what is amoxil 500 gram in pakistan for dapoxetine tablet category escobar comprar misoprostol cymbalta heart tome la pastilla cytotec nombres para el orlistat levofloxacin forum amoxicillin risks during pregnancy clozaril monitoring australia femara price in egypt stop taking zoloft aplastice anemia goes away moje li da se kupi kamagra oral jelly tapering or burst prednisone for rhumatoide microgestin and zoloft what company created doxycycline can dogs be treated with mobic metronidazole gel for acne scars generic for diovan 320 mg can azithromycin cure a uti and chlamydia together fexofenadine 60 mg tablets viagra side effects yahoo answers what dosages does zyprexa zydis come in dysthymia lexapro how effective is phenergan can doxycycline affect your period cabergoline ttc wie funktioniert xenical guna obat digoxin 0.25mg hydrocodone .bactrim cons of taking metformin finasteride ems doxycycline hyclate for eye infections colchicine indictions in india lipitor retail azithromycin 500 mg can i drink alcohol foro sobre el atarax is 500 mg of amoxicillin too much for a 6 year old how many 200mg metronidazole will cure trich explain how metformin works metformin ranitidine lipitor and plantar fasciitis esomeprazole tablets is used for antibiotic to cover strep and uti naproxen 750 mg ne i?§in kullan?±l?±r potenzmittel cialis pfister tactic to stop generic viagra patente del montelukast how long do side effects of fluconazole last neurontin full prescribing information actos global sales spironolactone category finasteride usp in pakistan cialis yorumlari eksi black box warning with linezolid lexapro temazepam risks mobic price amoxicillin and staph aureus bad reaction to kamagra detail about amoxicillin trihydrate in tablet ppt zofran cheap lipitor recall at cvs levofloxacin preparation in pakistan atorvastatin 50 mg que es el viagra aciclovir tratamiento herpes normal dosage of misoprostol cost of synthroid at target what will happen pussy if girl takes viagra what is liquid albuterol erythromycin prior to egd clomid makes period longer psych viagra falls watch can i take aspen azithromycin while drinking alcohol cipro 250 for prostatitis vibramycin auxiliary label

Preventing a 'spiritual Disneyland' in the Holy Land

By now, the threat facing Christianity in its birthplace has become depressingly clear.
by John L Allen Jr | Source: ARCOL

 Jul 21, 2011

 Christians represented 30 percent of British Mandate Palestine in 1948, while today their share in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is estimated at 1.25 percent. The risk, as the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, has put it, is that the Holy Land is becoming a spiritual Disneyland -- full of glittering rides and attractions, but empty of its indigenous Christian population.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Vaticans Pontifical Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and formerly Pope John Paul IIs top diplomat, offers another evocative image: The Christian centers of the Holy Land as archeological and historical sites, to be visited like the Colosseum in Rome museums with entrance tickets, and guides who explain the beautiful legends.

This decline in the Holy Land is part of a broad Christian exodus all across the Middle East. The reasons are also well known, and fairly obvious:

  • The Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which affects Arab Christians just as much as Arab Muslims;
  • Economic instability and lack of opportunity;
  • Rising Islamic fundamentalism, today compounded by fear that the promise of the Arab Spring could give way a winter of insecurity and theocratic regimes;
  • The fact that Christians in the area are disproportionately better educated and more affluent, and thus stand a better chance of getting out. As one observer has said, in the Middle East frustrated Christians emigrate physically, while frustrated Muslims emigrate ideologically.

Yet even when the big picture is familiar, its details still pack emotional punch.

Raphaela Fischer Mourra is the daughter of a German father and a Palestinian mother, born and raised in Bethlehem. In 2000, at the age of 15, she lost her father to an Israeli missile attack as he raced to rescue their neighbors; she tearfully describes him as the first Christian martyr of the Second Intifada. Samer Makhlouf, a 35-year-old raised in a Christian village on the West Bank, was arrested by Israeli troops at the age of 15 for tossing a stone in frustration. He was detained for four months, he said, interrogated and tortured, and still bears the marks of the experience, both physical and emotional. Another young Palestinian Christian, Jacoub Sleibi, says his family is forced to haul water to their home in Bethlehem, while fresh water flows abundantly through nearby Israeli settlements.

To make the point that no one has a monopoly on pain, theres Rabbi Daniel Sperber of Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, who over the years has found himself scraping bits of bone and skin out of burned Israeli tanks in order to make DNA identifications, calling it the sort of tragedy that has touched every Israeli family. His own children have been afraid to get on the school bus, he said, worrying that it might blow up illustrating, as Sperber puts it, that we also have our agony.

These were among the voices at a two-day conference on the fate of Christians in the Holy Land in London this week, cosponsored by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. Held at Lambeth Palace, the spiritual headquarters of the Anglican Communion, the event brought together some 90 church leaders, politicians, activists and media types to raise what Williams described as literate, compassionate awareness of the Christian plight, and to galvanize action.

The summit seemed to offer three main contributions:

  • A crystallized form of the rationale as to why the Christian world should care;
  • A survey of open questions;
  • A set of concrete ideas about how to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, were the American prelates at the gathering, while Tauran was on hand for the Vatican. (As a footnote, McCarrick is retired only in the technical sense. At 81, he logs more miles as a trouble-shooter and promoter of dialogue than anyone else I know; while he checked into our hotel he let me flip through the pages of his passport, which has to be one of the most used travel documents Ive ever seen.)

* * *
The argument as to why we ought to care about Christians in the Holy Land boiled down to two points: First, their survival is critical to Christianitys identity; second, its a key to peace in the region, and therefore to peace in the world.

Williams made the first case.

Christianity is an historical religion, he said. At its center is a set of events that occurred in a particular place and at a particular time. It is not open to Christians to say that Christianity is whatever they choose it to be. We are responsible to what happened in the Holy Land two millennia ago.

A Christian witness in the place where these events occurred, Williams said, is therefore no small thing.

It would be a form of Gnosticism if we were to say that the Christian presence in the land of Our Lord does not matter to us, Williams argued, calling such disregard a way of cutting ourselves loose from history.

(The depth of that history, by the way, was memorably captured by Zoughbi Zoughbi, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem: My great-great grandmother, he quipped, was the babysitter of Jesus.)

Beyond an antidote to Gnosticism, Williams said, the Arab Christians of the Holy Land make another contribution to Christian identity: They remind us that at its origins, Christianity is an exotic Eastern religion not bound up with Western culture.

In typically wry fashion, Williams observed that Christianity was not born in Europe, or even on the shores of North America which is quite good for us all. It is, therefore, as alien to the Capitalist West as it is to the Far East.

That point, Williams said, is vital to the specificity of Christian faith and its authenticity.

In terms of the importance of Christianity in the Holy Land to hopes for peace, speakers repeatedly stressed that although Christianity have a small sociological footprint, it is, in the words of Tauran, a minority that matters. Churches operate a vast network of schools and universities, hospitals, and social service centers, and individual Christians make key contributions to business, politics, and arts and culture.

Several observers also insisted the presence of Christianity keeps alive the notion of the Holy Land as a pluralistic space in which tolerance, democracy, and respect for human rights are essential and, conversely, the disappearance of Christianity would send the wrong signal about the future direction of the region.

In that sense, the presence or absence of a flourishing Christian minority is a bellwether for the political and cultural health of the society.

Perhaps the most compelling form of that argument came from Lubna Alzaroo, a young Palestinian Muslim who currently attends Bethlehem University, an institution sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Raised in Hebron, Alzaroo said her family can trace its roots in the area back 1,500 years.

In the mid-1960s, Alzaroo said, Hebron had a small Christian community, but today its entirely disappeared. (Theres a Christian elementary school, she said, but its student population is entirely Muslim.) As a result, she didnt actually meet a Christian until she was 18 years old, and that encounter came during a study program in the United States.

Its not a coincidence, Alzaroo said, that Hebron is considered the most religiously conservative city in the Palestinian Territories, and thus an incubator for more radical and militant currents.

Part of the reason is the lack of pluralism, she said. The more isolated they become, the more they think their way is the only way.

Given the link between the presence of Christianity and the plausibility of a democratic and tolerant Palestine, Alzaroo offered this dramatic warning: If Christianity were to disappear, she said, It would have ramifications as catastrophic for the Palestinians as the Nakba in 1948.

(Nakba is an Arabic term, roughly meaning disaster, which Palestinians use to refer to their displacement following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.)

* * *
Making the case for concern, of course, is the easy part. Knowing what to do is far harder, in part because the situation is maddeningly complex. One consensus was that any intervention in defense of Christians in the Holy Land, and, more broadly, in favor of peace in the region, cannot come off as partisan i.e., biased in favor of one party to the conflict or the other.

Twal, who is himself a Jordanian, put it this way: The only authentic pro-Israeli position is one thats also pro-Palestinian and pro-peace.

Beyond that call for balance, at least three recurrent tensions ran through the discussions at Lambeth Palace open questions which drew differing answers, depending upon who was speaking.

1. Whats the impact of Israeli policy on Christians?

Samer Makhlouf, a Latin Catholic and executive director of One Voice in Palestine, a grassroots movement that brings together young Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace, said that of the four problems facing Christians in the Holy Land, the first three are occupation, occupation, occupation.

Makhlouf described Israeli military and security policy, which Palestinians capture with the term occupation, as the father of all the problems in the region.

Over and over, Palestinian Christians insisted that the main factors fueling their exodus political discrimination and a sense of second-class citizenship, lack of economic development and employment, restrictions on their freedom of movement, and so on are fundamentally the result of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, rather than explicit discrimination against Christians.

One frequently cited difficulty involves access to Christian holy sites. Palestinians living in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem hold different residency cards, and they cannot move from one place to the other without special permits. It can be virtually impossible for a Christian in Bethlehem, for instance, to travel to Jerusalem to worship in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Thats true even if a permit is granted, many speakers said, since Easter coincides with the Jewish festival of Pescah, when a security lockdown is imposed.)

As Mourra put it, Its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a Palestinian to go to Jerusalem.

Residency policies can have a devastating impact on families. Reportedly, there are some 200 Christian families living apart today, split between members in the West Bank and members in Jerusalem.

Hana Bendcowsky, a Jewish Israeli affiliated with the Jerusalem Centre for Christian Jewish Relations, warned of hardening Israeli attitudes towards Christianity. A 2009 survey, she said, found that 18-29 year old Israelis hold more negative views of Christians than older generations.

At root, she said, Jews in Israel have a hard time thinking of themselves as a majority. They see tend to see the Christians in their midst not as an embattled minority, but a doubly threatening majority part of both the Arab world and the Christian West.

There was also an undercurrent of frustration at the London meeting about negotiations which have lingered since 1993 over the Fundamental Agreement between Israel and the Vatican, which among other things was supposed to regulate the tax and legal status of church properties in Israel. The terms of the agreement have never been implemented by the Israeli Knesset, and in the meantime, Israeli has declared certain important Christian sites, such as Mount Tabor and Capernaum, to be national parks, overriding Christian control.

As one speaker put it, those acts seem part of an Israeli policy of creating facts on the ground that unilaterally reshape negotiations.

During a plenary session at the end of the gathering, a recommendation surfaced that church leaders should urge Israel to act and should also urge the Vatican to keep up the pressure. The fear is that if Israel ignores its deal with the Vatican, it erodes public confidence in the possibility of a negotiated settlement to anything.

On the other hand, several speakers noted that as the lone genuine democracy in the region, Israel has a track record of giving minorities, including Christians, a better break than they find elsewhere. Some argued that Christianity is actually doing comparatively well inside Israel itself.

Sperber said that more than 50,000 Christians have recently settled in Israel from the former territories of the Soviet Union, and adding to those numbers are other migrs from the Balkans and from Asia, especially the Philippines. As a result, he said, the churches are full in Tel Aviv and Haifa, and he sees the same thing in Jerusalem.

Sperber said there is also a tremendous upsurge in Christian pilgrimage in Israel so much so, he said, that his neighbors often find it difficult to get out of their houses because their narrow alleyways are stuffed with Christian tourists.

In fact, Sperber said, there is a renaissance of Christian activity in the state of Israel. He added that Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing, and where Christian institutions enjoy state support.

Bernard Sabellah, a Palestinian Christian academic and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, offered a different take.

There were roughly 35,000 Christians in the territory of Israel in 1948, he said, while today the number is 110,000. Given the natural rate of demographic increase over a half-century, he said, the Christian population today should be 150,000, which means that there are a missing 40,000 Christians in Israel. Moreover, he asserted, a recent survey of young Christians in Israel found that 26 percent want to leave the same percentage as in the Palestinian Territories.

As a result, Sabellah said, for Christians, the state system is not a blessing from the Israeli government.

2. What to make of the Arab Spring?

Nowhere in the Christian world does one find a more positive treatment of secularism than in the Middle East. In the West, secularism is often the bogeyman of the Christian imagination, because its identified with declines in religious faith and practice and in the impact of traditional moral values. In the Middle East, Christians generally see secularism as a survival strategy the only viable alternative to corrupt authoritarian regimes on the one hand, and Islamic theocracy on the other.

Reflecting that psychology, considerable enthusiasm coursed through the Lambeth gathering about the Arab Spring, and the vision of pluralistic, democratic, and participatory societies which seem to animate its young protagonists.

The recent Arab Spring of youth in the region is spreading, Twal said. Sooner or later, with violence or peacefully, it is coming. No regime is immune to these events.

The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, said the Arab Spring demonstrates that the people are demanding to be heard, and that as Arab Christians, we join our Arab brothers and sisters.

Sabellah said the Arab Spring reflects the reality that the majority of Arabs want to live in an open, preferably secular, democratic society. Thats especially true, he said, for Christians.

I have no problem with Islam, but I want to be a citizen, not a tolerated minority by a gracious act of Israel, or Assad, or Abu Mazen, or the King of Jordan, he said.

Citizenship was a key theme throughout the meeting, seeming to capture a distinctly Arab Christian vision of secular society. Zoughbi once again put the point in pithy fashion: In the Middle East, he said, We dont need liberation theology. We need liberation from theology.

Yet some Christians cannot help but feel ambivalent about the Arab Spring, wondering if it will really deliver on those heady promises.

I look at it with great hope, but also great worry and fear, Makhlouf said. If it means greater democracy and more free societies, thats very promising. But the future is not clear Whats next? Is it the Muslim Brotherhood? More Islamic regimes in the region?

Others echoed those sentiments.

McCarrick said he recently returned from a trip to Gaza, where he met both with young people and with some of the elders. While the youth expressed frustration about the lack of movement and the difficult of obtaining visas, he said, the elderly voiced deeper worries.

Theyre afraid of Hamas, and theyre afraid of the Arab Spring, what it might mean for the government there, he said.

Likewise, conservative British MP Tony Baldry said he recently visited Egypt, where he met with both Coptic and Catholic leaders who are not optimistic about the Arab Spring. Christian leaders in Egypt, he said, worry that by next year, the Muslim Brotherhood will be in control of the military with potentially threatening consequences for the countrys Christian minority.

Harry Hagopian, a Jerusalem-based representative of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate and also an advisor to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales on the Middle East, put it this way: The Arab Spring is bringing down walls, and sometimes kicking up dust.

To the extent there was a consensus, it might be expressed this way: Theres much to applaud in the Arab Spring, but its also nave, as Baldry put it, to think that every change is necessarily for the better.

3. Is political advocacy or grassroots effort the way to go?

Repeatedly, speakers at the Lambeth event said that politicians, both inside and outside the Holy Land, appear incapable of resolving the regions problems. There seemed little confidence in a new outburst of sensibility.

Indeed, there was a palpable sense that politics is driving the region towards a new cycle of disaster with the potential for a new Intifada, or a new war in Lebanon, or new conflict between Al-Fatah and Hamas. Several speakers even raised the prospect that in Gaza, Hamas is coming to seem a moderate force up against even more radical currents of Islam.

Though it wasnt much discussed, participants were obviously conscious of the likelihood of a September vote on Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly of the United Nations, and the prospect that it too could unleash new conflict.

As a result, some suggested that the right approach to aiding Christians is to focus on bottom-up, grassroots initiatives, ignoring the bleak political landscape.

We are not sitting by the wayside waiting for politicians or anyone else to create a path to peace, Dawani said.

He pointed to a number of concrete efforts launched by Christian leaders, including a new joint project in Jerusalem between the Anglican and Catholic churches intended to give young Christian families access to decent housing. A wide range of similar initiatives, either already under way or in the planning stages, were floated over the two days.

On the other hand, several speakers insisted that one cannot simply throw in the towel on the political process especially given the obvious linkage between the specific plight of Christians and the broader Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The greatest single thing Christians worldwide can do [to help believers in the Holy Land] is to encourage a two-state solution, said Stephen Colecchi, director of the U.S. bishops Office of International Justice and Peace. He argued that the drive to work locally, and on a small scale, must be held together with broader political advocacy.

Robert Edmunds, chaplain to the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, said that many grassroots initiatives amount to band-aids, and that if we dont encourage the government of Israel to cut a deal, were going to be putting on band-aids for a very long time.

Edmunds insisted hes not opposed to such projects: Band-aids are important, he said. They keep you from bleeding to death. Yet until theres a broad political solution, he said, the grassroots approach risks ending in words and good will that dont fundamentally change the realities on the ground.

In the end, the approach that seemed to prevail was both/and small-scale initiatives as a form of confidence-building measures, while continuing the pursuit of a political game-changer.

In terms of how to do effective advocacy, Sabellah stressed the importance of a limited and pragmatic agenda.

Lofty dialogue will get you nowhere, he said. Lets not waste effort. He suggested a narrow focus on practical matters such as residency, housing, and freedom of movement, which could be resolved even in the absence of a comprehensive peace deal.

* * *
Towards the end of the meeting, an effort was made to identify concrete ideas that would be of help to Christians in the Holy Land, and which could be achieved not in a far-off speculative future, but in the here and now.

A sampling of those proposals follows.

  1. A targeted push with the Israeli authorities in favor of easier access to the holy sites, especially movement from the West Bank to Jerusalem. As Nichols put it, The de facto separation of Bethlehem from Jerusalem seems to sum up the frustration and fear that people feel.
  2. Supporting projects such as Friends of the Holy Land, a new charity established under Catholic auspices in England and Wales and now endorsed by Williams and the Church of England as an ecumenical project.
  3. Encouraging Catholic charities around the world to focus on projects in the Holy Land, such as water supplies, medical care, housing and employment.
  4. Encouraging pilgrimage and tourism to the Holy Land, under a new template which would focus not merely on seeing historical sites but also encountering living Christian faith communities.
  5. Launching an umbrella group for Christian NGOs which would pool their efforts, both in terms of political advocacy and on-the-ground aid projects.
  6. Organizing a conference similar to the Lambeth event in the United States. That idea came from Kicanas, who suggested bringing religious, political and cultural leaders in the States together for a similar high-level discussion.
  7. Inviting Palestinian Christian students from Bethlehem University to spend a few months abroad, perhaps as part of an exchange program. They could be hosted by parishes, and also have the chance to meet with political leaders in those areas.
  8. Conducting a church study of Christian Messianic Zionism i.e., the view that the return of Jews to Israel is a prerequisite to the Second Coming and what it means for the Christians living in Palestine.
  9. Preparing homiletic materials to promote preaching and faith formation about the situation facing Christians in the Holy Land.
  10. Supporting the Vaticans position on an international statute for Jerusalem, in which the holy sites would be accorded legal protection, and also encouraging the Israeli government to implement the Fundamental Agreement.
  11. Reaching out to the Palestinian Christian diaspora in the United States and Europe, promoting relationships with their fellow Christians who remain in the Palestinian Territories.
  12. Promoting micro-finance and job training programs for Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
  13. Developing classes for the non-Christian majorities in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to educate them about the Christian presence.
  14. Encouraging business firms in the West to adopt a Christian enterprise in Palestine, meaning to enter into partnership and ensure its access to markets.
  15. Developing an ecumenical day of prayer for the Christians of the Holy Land, so that one day a year they know the entire Christian world is praying on their behalf.
  16. Developing a web-based communications network which would allow the Christians of the Holy Land to connect with the global church about their daily challenges.
  17. Ensuring that advocacy and aid related to Christians in the Holy Land is truly ecumenical, beginning with a sustained Anglican/Catholic partnership.
  18. Parishes in the West adopting a Christian parish, or an entire community, in the Holy Land. Sperber suggested an analogy with the way Jews in the 19th century adopted fledging communities in Ottoman Palestine, which helped solidify the Jewish presence in the land.

* * *

Heres one final reflection, on the ecumenical significance of what happened in Lambeth Palace this week.

Williams and Nichols were genuine co-chairs of the event. It was not a typical ecclesiastical summit, where the VIPs issue a few words of greeting at the beginning and then scuttle off to other appointments. Williams and Nichols sat together on the dais throughout, introducing speakers and listening carefully, then offering reflections of their own. They also held a joint press conference at the end, presenting everything as a common reflection and plan of action.

For anyone conscious of the strained past (and, for that matter, present) of Anglican/Catholic relations, it was an impressive display of partnership. In particular, the event seemed to rebut fears that recent turbulence caused by creation of a Catholic ordinariate to welcome ex-Anglicans would somehow shut down the relationship.

Williams and Nichols did everything possible to strike an image of common cause. During a brief press conference at the conclusion of the event, a British reporter asked for comment on a pending visit to the U.K. by American pastor John Hagee, known for his staunchly pro-Israeli views which, in the eyes of some, buttress extremist positions inside Israel.

Nichols fielded the question, conceding that hes never heard of Hagee, but saying that I would trust the intelligence of people in this country to judge his remarks appropriately, and then added: He seems to have a very different approach than we do.

The we in that sentence, of course, was himself and Williams.

No doubt, the growing divide between Anglicanism and Catholicism on a well-known canon of issues including women priests and women bishops, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and the whole question of ecclesial authority has made structural reunion more difficult. But if this week in London proved anything, its that those differences do not have to prevent the two churches from working together on other matters, and in a spirit of real friendship.

Click Here to Donate Now!

Join the new media evangelization. Your tax-deductible gift allows to build a culture of life in our nation and throughout the world. Please help us promote the Church's new evangelization by donating to right now. God bless you for your generosity.




Post a Comment
Write a comment on this article

Email required (will not be published)
required Country

Most Popular