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Undermining existing Jerusalem status quo a desecration of its sanctity — Patriarch Theophilos III

Dec 18,2017 - Last updated at Dec 18,2017

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos III during meeting with Christian religious leaders and figures from Jordan and Jerusalem on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year at the Baptism Site (Bethany beyond the Jordan) on Sunday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

Following is the full text of Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos III’s remarks during His Majesty King Abdullah's meeting with Christian religious leaders and figures from Jordan and Jerusalem on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year at the Baptism Site (Bethany beyond the Jordan) on Sunday: 

 

Your Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein,

Custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites, and the protector of the holy sites in Jerusalem,

Your Excellencies,

Blessed greetings from Jerusalem,

We see in your presence, as we have always seen, the great love and loyalty to the holy city, and in these days, when Jerusalem sleeps with its wounds, it sees in your eyes, Your Majesty, the spark of hope and senses from the brave people of Jordan, the deep devotion of its sacred  soil, that still carries the blood of your brave soldiers, and the blood of your martyred grandfather, the founding King Abdullah I, may God bless his soul.

I come today, carrying from the land of Nativity and Resurrection, the land of Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, enormous gratitude. I stand witness to your great devotion to Jerusalem, as the rightful custodian over its holy sites.

Your Majesty, there is none more able to protect Jerusalem better than you, for you are the most dedicated and honest in defending its cause and safeguarding its Christian holy sites, as you also protect its Islamic holy sites.

This is how we have always regarded you, Your Majesty. You are the heir of the Pact of Omar, which laid the foundations of Muslim-Christian coexistence and maintained a flourishing Islamic and Christian civilisation in our holy lands.

For us, Your Majesty, you represent an icon of love and peace, which was embodied when the Patriarch of the Holy City, Saint Sophronius, met with Caliph Al Faruq Omar Bin Al Khattab, bringing together the first Christian-Muslim spiritual encounter in Jerusalem.

Today, we emphasise the most important principles of the Pact of Omar: that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is for Christians and Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif is for Muslims. Based on this fact, the Churches of Jerusalem will not hesitate to protect Islamic holy sites, just as the Jerusalem Awqaf protects our safety and property whenever we are threatened.

I came here today to renew the pledge of allegiance to you, as you uphold the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem, with its unique status, and as you address international fora on behalf of Palestine, as the custodian of its holy sites.

I came to you, with the modesty of nativity and the great meanings of resurrection, to deliver to your generous hands the file of our Orthodox Church of Jerusalem “The Mother of All Churches”, not to burden you more, but because we have great trust in you. You are the most capable of addressing the world, not in the name of Palestine alone, but also in the name of the “Mother of All Churches”, based on your concern for the Christians of the Levant, which is burdened by the pains of extremism and discrimination. We strongly believe that you are the voice of truth that will always prevail.

Your Majesty,

I stand here to reaffirm my allegiance to you, just like the scholars, leaders, and people of Jerusalem and Palestine stood on March 11, 1924, pledging their allegiance to your great grandfather Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, may God bless him and grant him peace.

We renew our pledge to unite our love for Jerusalem. We affirm our deep pride in the positions of the Hashemites and the steadfastness of the brave, loyal Amman that has never hesitated to hold Jerusalem with love without bias or discrimination. Jerusalem, Christians and Muslims alike, have always been in the conscience of the Hashemites and in the hearts of all Jordanians throughout history.

Our Holy Church was founded in Jerusalem as the first Church and "Mother of All Churches". Today, its property is subject to greater greed, restrictions, and violations. The case of Bab Al Khalil stands as testament to the kind of conspiracies and attempts on church property, in an attempt to change the identity and history of the holy city.

Your Majesty, the Custodian,

The politicisation of Jerusalem, attempts to dominate it, and the undermining of the existing status quo is a desecration of its sanctity, a threat to its history and its existence, and a destruction of its holy sites and civilisation. It deals a serious blow to relevant UN resolutions and threatens to end peace in the city of peace.

From the land of Baptism, where Christianity was launched into the world. We call on the people of conscience and good intentions to stand against any violation facing Jerusalem, its holy sites and people; to pay attention to their duties in protecting the holy city; and to support your efforts in protecting holy sites in Jerusalem, in order for Jerusalem to remain the capital of spiritual and human values, and an example of harmony among people of different faiths and nationalities, so that the blessings and grace of God will remain present.

Jerusalem, Your Majesty, is walking on a new Via Dolorosa today, where this city has been known as the most sacred path of pain experienced by the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which was completed with the glorious resurrection, to declare that after death comes a resurrection and life, and no matter how strong injustice can be, justice will prevail, because evil is doomed to end. This is the message of our Holy Church to our people in these difficult days: we must not lose hope; we must seek strength from faith, hope and love; and we must preserve our national unity and harmony, and the vibrant Christian presence in our holy land. There are many who wish for an East without Christians, and we tell them that we are here to stay. We look towards Jerusalem in our prayers, and we are ready to sacrifice everything to protect it.

We are here, Your Majesty, appreciating your continued sincere efforts to protect Christian presence, and your keen interest in supporting our affairs in the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate, as well as your positions that reflect concern for all churches. We see this as a deep-rooted legacy of which we are proud, representing a role model for relations between Muslims and Christians, which cements the values of harmony, coexistence and dialogue among the followers of various religions.

Finally, you will remain, Your Majesty, in our prayers, you and your Hashemite family and all Jordanians. You have always been generous towards Jerusalem and its people. May God Almighty bless you and protect our blessed Jordan, our Arab Army, and Jordan’s security and stability under your wise leadership. You are the defender of beloved Jerusalem, its people and holy sites. We wish you a merry Christmas, as we chant with the angels “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased”.

We hope to celebrate together again, when the holy sites, the people, and the soil of Jerusalem are safe and secure, with you present as custodian. We renew our pride in you and our pledge to you. We stand in support of Your Majesty’s words: Yes, Jerusalem is in the hearts of all Christians and Muslims. Our right to Jerusalem is eternal.

 

 

May God bless you, and peace be with you and to you.

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