From the Christmas Message 2008 By H.B. Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Dear brothers and sisters,
With joy we would like to announce to you the desire of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, to visit the Holy Land, as a Pilgrim next May. The Supreme Pontiff, wishes to pray with us and for us, and to acquire a first hand knowledge, of the hard conditions of our region. We are confident in the Lord, that this pontifical pilgrimage and pastoral visit, will be a blessing for us all, as well as a substantial contribution, to a better understanding among the various nations of the region, lifting the barriers and helping solve the problems, removing distress and consolidating good relations among peoples, religions and denominations, in security and peace.
From Bethlehem, I call upon my Brothers the Bishops and other world religious Leaders, the religious Orders and Congregations, the Consecrated persons and all other people of good will, the Pilgrims and all those who love the Holy Land: please, remember Bethlehem and Jerusalem in your prayers! The Holy Land appeals to your conscience and entreats your support. Do not leave it alone in its distress. Assist it so that it might become and remain a land of love, peace, reconciliation and equality among all its children.
O Infant of Bethlehem, you who wanted to be born in silence and stillness, plant in our hearts a love for peace, justice and serenity! You, who have experienced poverty, wandering and fear, have pity on our poor, our wanderers, our prisoners and refugee camp dwellers!
O unlimited God who, in your incarnation, accepted to experience the limits of time and place: you knew the limits of place, by being born in a grotto and being compelled to escape and wander; you knew the limits of time, when you dwelt in the holy womb of the Virgin. You, who with your mother Mary and guardian Joseph were, in the Grotto, the model of refugees and rejected people, sanctify your- Country, so that your name be hallowed everywhere, and that we draw closer to You and to each other, under the hard circumstances ,in which we live.
O Infant of the Grotto, who rejected violence, homicide and hatred, you, whose Birth, divided History into two – the old and the new, before Christ and after Christ, expel war from your homeland, and bring an end to the destruction of its homes. Sow the seeds of brotherhood! Grant to the afflicted and the poor, hope and comfort! O You, the Poor, the Fugitive and the Persecuted One, look upon those who emigrated from Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and other suffering countries. May your Homeland ,be the Land of blessings and prosperity, where the followers of all religions meet in harmony, so that "no nation raises the sword against another." (Isaiah 2:4) May our faithful celebration of your Birth, be the birth of a new era of peace, stability and security, Amen!
+ Fouad Twal, Patriarch