THE ADDRESS OF THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM TO THE PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL FOR THE NEW YEAR
The decades-long established meeting of the President of the State of Israel Mr Reuven Rivlin with the Heads of the Churches and Religious Institutions in the State of Israel, for the New Civil Year, 2021, took place on Wednesday, 17/30 December 2020.
This year, the meeting was held according to the covid-19 restrictive measures. His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed the President Mr Rivlin on behalf of the Christians in the State of Israel as per below:
Jerusalem 30 December 2020
“Your Excellency, Mr President,
Respected Governmental Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We wish to extend to you, Mr President, our greetings and best wishes for this holiday season, in which the Abrahamic faith traditions keep festivals of light and life. In this difficult time of the pandemic, during which so many are suffering both in the Holy Land and around the world, it remains incumbent upon us all to remain focused on the hope that this holiday season promises.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you, Mr President, for your steadfast support of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious character of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Your commitment to the well-being and integrity of the Christian presence is a real encouragement, especially as we face the ongoing challenges from those who do not understand the true nature of the Holy Land.
We have deeply appreciated the personal concern that you have shown us by speaking individually to each of the Heads of the Churches during this pandemic.
In this festive season of peace and goodwill, we remain convinced that the best possible roadmap for the future of the well-being of all our peoples here, is the way of dialogue and mutual respect. We share your concern, Mr President, about the increasing incidents of radical activity in the Holy Land, most recently at the Church of the Agony in Gethsemane. Yet, we are confident, that the challenges that we face can be resolved by proper dialogue, and we cannot relax our vigilance against those who wish to subvert the integrity of our common life, in which the three Abrahamic traditions may be allowed to co-exist and to flourish.
Our beloved Holy Land has suffered terribly during the pandemic. Many thousands of pilgrims cannot be with us, especially during this holiday season, and this is both a spiritual and economic hardship for us. And yet, we do not lose heart, and we trust in Almighty God to sustain us during this time. For it is written:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” (Psalm 45: 1-3).
We are all looking forward in the New Year to a time of recovery and new life, in which our regular patterns of life will be restored, and our local communities, as well as those who come here on pilgrimage, may experience a more normal life once again. We welcome the encouraging news of new COVID vaccine.
We would like to make a special mention of the Office for Christian Communities and Mr Sezar Marjieh and his colleagues for their crucial efforts and co-ordination.
As we look to the future in the hope of this holy season, we take this opportunity, Mr President, to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May God bless you in your work on behalf of all the peoples of our beloved Holy Land.
His Beatitude Theophilos III
Patriarch of Jerusalem