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Turn to prayer when feeling despair, archbishop tells Mideast Christians

“You don’t want to fuel the fire,” he said. “You have to be aware of your [surroundings] and how we can be seduced into being violent. We need to be really self-critical and conscientious and say: This is not just. In a way everyone is suffering but … people with power are the ones who can make a difference.”

Archbishop Pizzaballa told Catholic News Service the Christian community draws strength from supporting one another and not allowing the conflict to enter in their hearts. The strength of their daily life, taking care of their children and family, is what frees them to have hope and be positive, he said.

“Life is difficult, but we must always pray for peace,” said Faiyad Elias, 55, of Jerusalem.

Christy Bandak, 43, of Bethlehem, said the only hope people have is in their faith.

“Negotiations have failed, human means have failed. … Peace is a gift from God. That is the only way out,” said Bandak. “Christians, if they are really Christians, are peacemakers. When you hear [about] the bombings and the shootings, one can be afraid. It is a reason to pray to strengthen your faith. We can’t fall into the abyss of desperation.”

Souad Handal, 49, of Bethlehem, West Bank, said as Palestinian Christians, they experience the same injustices as Muslim Palestinians, said but though the situation is getting harder, they do not believe in violence.

“Palestinians want our freedom [but] we [Christians] believe in Jesus as a peacemaker,” Handal said. “We ask for the peace of the land. We can ask only God to help us.”

Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan, who also attended the prayer service, said Christians must raise their voices in the call for justice and be ready to offer themselves as bridges of peace.





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