Vatican and Palestinian agreement helping hand to Christians in the Middle East

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"For us Palestinians it is a time of joy, which we hope will reflect and have implications on the political and religious center of the whole Middle East region." "The message this relays, two days before the canonization of the Palestinian sisters, is that Christians are an integral part of society." 

Vatican and Palestinian agreement helping hand to Christians in the Middle East

"The Comprehensive Agreement" between the Holy See and the "State of Palestine" which was announced on May 13 brings to conclusion a journey that started in 1994, when the Vatican established official relations with the PLO .


Interviewed by l’Osservatore Romano, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States, who led the Vatican delegation, said the accord "aims to promote the life and activity of the Catholic Church and its legal recognition for a more effective service to society. " At the same time, it expresses "the hope for a solution to the Palestinian question and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians as part of the Two-State Solution".


The same Msgr. Camilleri said that despite the outcry over the use of the term "State of Palestine", it is not new to the Holy See. "On November 29, 2012 - he said - a resolution that recognizes Palestine as a nonmember observer state of the United Nations was adopted by the UN General Assembly, and the same day the Holy See, which also has the observer status at the United Nations, issued a statement ". And already the Pontifical Yearbook of last year in the list of the diplomatic corps the "Representation of the PLO" has been replaced by "representative of the State of Palestine."


The initial response of the Israeli government has been negative. A source in the Foreign Ministry claimed that the agreement "does not advance the peace process" and "distances the Palestinian leadership from being able to return to bilateral relations."

AsiaNews approached Prof. Bernard Sabella , a Catholic representative of Fatah in Jerusalem and Executive Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches Palestinian refugee service, for a comment on how this accord affects Palestinians.


For us Palestinians is a time of joy, which we hope will reflect and have implications on the political and religious life of the entire Middle East region. We greatly appreciate the role of the Vatican in the interests of peace and reconciliation. And its incessant work to keep Christians, and not only Palestinians, in the region, dedicated to open and friendly relations with the other actors. The step taken by the Vatican is a simple and clear message, not a diplomatic one.

The agreement reached between the Vatican and the Palestinian State is the natural development of the position the Vatican has always maintained, on the need to recognize the Palestinian State on the one hand, and on the other of the right of Palestinians to have their own State. As the Vatican has always maintained, there can be no peace if Israel and Palestine do not reach an agreement ensuring a State for the Palestinians.

The Vatican also carefully noted the development of relations in the region and in Europe, with Sweden who recently recognized the Palestinian State and that France is seriously considering the possibility of recognition itself, which goes beyond the vote that was a non-binding motion.

The recognition of Palestine is also a message to Israel, which says that there is no future for peace and reconciliation, without the two-state solution.

The message that it conveys to us as Palestinian citizens, two days before the canonization of the Palestinian sisters, is that Christians are an integral part of society as were these two sisters. They, who served not only the local community but the entire society in difficult circumstances. An example to be followed not only by Palestinians, Christians and non-Christians,  but all Arabs.

These two saints tell us that we Christians are part of society, this model of holiness is an invitation to practice our faith within society.

Moreover, the recognition of the Palestinian State and the canonization of the two sisters is also a message not only for the Christians of the region, but also for Arabs and Muslims. It means that the Church is for everyone, to uphold the rights of all and in favor of justice, so that we all may live in peace and harmony.

The presence of a Palestinian delegation at the celebration, composed of Christians but also including the Palestinian President Abu Mazen and other Muslims, is a sign of acceptance that the Middle East needs all its citizens to build a future far from conflict, violence, wars and persecutions. A world open to all, a very strong message, we love everyone in the Middle East and we celebrate the two Palestinian Saints, whose love for  people should be a future guide for us all.

The agreement between the Vatican and Palestine should be an example that others should follow, like Israel with which negotiations have been stalled for time. In all these years Palestine has always defended the rights and property of the Church, so the agreement reached yesterday is just the legalization and legitimization of a situation in place since 1993, but it is another positive step forward.


Bernard Sabella
Source: asianews.it (May 14, 2015)