Holy Land Church leaders say Easter offers hope in sea of violence

(Photo: Reuters / /Nir Elias)Worshippers carry a cross in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday during Holy Week, in Jerusalem's Old City March 29, 2013. Christian worshippers retraced the route Jesus took along Via Dolorosa to his crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter.

Christian leaders in Jerusalem say the Holy City is a source of hope that "springs from the Resurrection" and are urging "people everywhere not to fall into despair" over recent violence threatening their region.

In an Easter message the Church leaders express deep distress over the level of violence "still being falsely perpetrated in the name of religion in parts of the Middle East and elsewhere in recent times."

The leaders include Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Roman Catholics, Vatican Radio reports.

They note in their Easter 2015 message that some of the region's ancient Christian communities, "especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria – have been among those most directly affected, along with other minority populations."

Their message come during a time of deep concern about the onslaught against Christians particularly in regions such as the Middle East and a strip across the northern part of Africa.

On March 11, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Holy See's observer to the United Nations in Geneva addressed the issue at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council.

"The International Community as a whole is certainly witnessing a sort of genocide in some regions of the world, where the enslavement and sale of women and children, the killing of young men, the burning, beheading and the forcing into exile of people continue," he said.


He noted that these and "other unspeakable crimes are being committed against people belonging to ancient communities simply because their belief, social system and culture are different from the fundamentalist combatants of the so-called 'Islamic State' group."

Tomasi told the U.N. body that appealing to religion to murder people and destroy the evidence of human creativity made the current atrocities "even more revulsive and damnable."

He said the international community has a moral imperative to put aside chosen interests and to save lives.

The Jerusalem leaders said, "There is no true religion which advocates violation of the human person or the victimization of minority groups in society and we condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms.

"Those who engage in such barbaric behaviour dehumanize not only their victims, but themselves."

In Jerusalem is the site of the Empty Tomb, "the place where God's sovereignty over death and the powers of darkness was manifested in the raising of Jesus from the dead."

Due to this reality, the Church leaders say that the place where the Resurrection took place "is not merely an object of archaeological curiosity but remains a living focus of Christian worship."

They say, "It is a place where God's grace has been manifested in numerous ways down the centuries and for that reason alone it deserves respect."

Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate

Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land

Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate

Archbishop Aba Embakob, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate

Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate

Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate

Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Msgr. Georges Dankaye', Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

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