Palestinian Christians Pray

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Rocco Palma reports on the plight of Palestinian Christians:

mid Gaza’s Suffering, a Cry for Peace

As the Israeli ground operations in Gaza enter their fourth day, a plea for prayers from inside the combat-zone:

In a message to participants in a special Mass for peace at St. Stephen Church in Jerusalem Jan. 4, Msgr. Manuel Musallam, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Gaza City, wrote: “What you see on television cannot be compared to what is happening. The word love is choking in my throat. … We are living like animals in Gaza. We cry and nobody hears us. I am asking God for mercy and pray that the light of Christianity continues to shine in Gaza.”

Church leaders from the Holy Land attended the Mass at St. Stephen’s while local and international Christians gathered elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank to pray for a halt to the violence in Gaza. When Israel began its military operation in Gaza in late December, the heads of Christian churches in the Holy Land called for Jan. 4 to be a day of prayer for peace.

At St. Stephen’s, retired Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem said the Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip means death for both sides.

“What is happening now is death for Palestinians as well as Israelis,” Patriarch Sabbah said at the Mass. “What is happening in Gaza has made us all come to pray and join in a prayer that says stop the massacre. We are calling to God to look at Gaza and see what is happening there and to all of us.”

Peace only can come through justice, not war, he said.

“We are looking at ourselves and we are not doing our best. Israel should stop this and will stop, but then after this destruction there will be more destruction,” he said.

He called on Palestinians to realize that the only way to regain their freedom and independence is through nonviolent means….

In a center pew of St. Catherine’s [in Bethlehem], Victor Zoughbi knelt in prayer.

He told Catholic News Service after Mass he was praying “not just for the people in Gaza but also for those in Tel Aviv. Every (Israeli) soldier going into Gaza now has a mother who is sitting glued to the television with her heart in her throat. He who truly has God in his heart loves everybody.”

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