Christmas sermon in Bethlehem urges leaders to have courage

With turmoil in the Holy Land following US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Church in Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, called on leaders on Christmas to have courage and a real and serious policy

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Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Church in Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, called on leaders on Christmas to have courage and a real and serious policy. PIX: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa

BETHLEHEM – With turmoil in the Holy Land following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Church in Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, called on leaders on Christmas to have courage and a real and serious policy.

In his Midnight Mass homily at St. Catherine Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Pizzaballa also called on Christians in the Holy Land, whose numbers are getting less, to continue to live and remain here.

“I must recommend to those who have the power to decide our future, to politicians, to have courage, not to fear to dare and to risk, not to fear being alone, not to abandon each one’s vision,” he said.

“Today even more than ever we need from you a real and serious policy. Despite the many disappointments of the past and of these present days, with determination, do not abandon having a vision.”

At least nine Palestinians have died in the last three weeks and hundreds have been injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The declaration and unrest has also dampened Christmas celebrations.

Pizzaballa called on the Christians of the Holy Land, “who are worried and perhaps afraid by the reduction of our numbers, the inadequacy of our means, and the insecurity that characterizes our daily life”, to have courage and to “continue to live and remain here, in weakness and in poverty, because these are the ways of God when He wants to come into the world and bless humanity.”

Studies showed a rise in Christian migration from the Holy Land citing political and economic reasons.

Addressing leaders, the Apostolic Administrator said: “Courage also you authorities of the world: you can attempt the adventure of peace and brotherhood, renouncing to aim for greatness and power but bending yourself to serve the good of humanity.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with government officials and foreign diplomats attended the Midnight Mass in Bethlehem.

Thousands of locals, pilgrims and tourists came to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, on Sunday to celebrate Christmas. -dpa

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