Prot. 577 /2010D
To: Western Heads of State
Damascus, 20 December 2010
Your Majesty/Your Excellency, (Mister President)
Please accept my respectful greetings, Your Majesty/ Your Excellency, (Mister President), firstly on the occasion of Christmas, as I wish you a blessed Feast of the Nativity of the Saviour of the world; our world which is, as the Liturgy has it, His world. May I also offer my best wishes for the New Year 2011 to Your Majesty/ Your Excellency, (to you, Mr. President) personally for your family and beloved country.
I should like to draw your attention, secondly, to the recent (10-24 October) holding of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, at the Vatican. You will readily understand the significance of this event, with regard to three aspects in particular:
1. The importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East and the challenges facing it
2. Muslim-Christian dialogue
3. The impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the two preceding issues, and thus the urgent need for peace.
In two recent letters addressed to the Kings and Presidents of Arab countries, I outlined this situation and the business of the above-mentioned Assembly and enclose with the present, a copy of that of 24 October, following the holding of the Synodal Assembly.
That explains why it appears to me all the more needful that I should address Heads of State in Western countries, to set out the importance of these aspects of vital urgency for the future of Christianity in the Holy Land and in Middle Eastern countries and for our living together and dialogue, as well as for the presence of Muslims in Western countries.
Since everything depends on peace and is linked to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Middle East's ongoing crises, fuelled by the rise of fundamentalism and emigration, are also bound up with this conflict.
That is why I am making this urgent appeal to you to work for peace, as His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI requested in his homily of 24 October, during the Closing Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
Two papers, illustrative of the urgency of the need for resolution, are also enclosed: one on The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: brave peace, the other on Jerusalem, capital of faith.
Three countries have just recognized the State of Palestine: Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. It is expected that other Latin American countries will join them. Can the European Union continue to delay acting on its declared intention on the matter? Europe and the whole West are very important for us all in the Middle East.
If you wish there still to be Christians in the Middle East in the Holy Land, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and the countries of the Gulf, help us to make peace and stop the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, recognized in international law as Palestinian land!
Christians, from lay-people to Patriarchs, together with Muslims in Arab countries are wondering why sanctions can be imposed upon a number of countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran, but never any that affect Israel.
Such a state of affairs feeds fundamentalism and extremism and in turn rebounds upon us Christians, especially in Iraq and Egypt: the enclosed papers show that.
Thanking Your Majesty/Your Excellency, (you, Mister President) for your consideration of this letter and its accompanying papers, we hope that the year 2011 will bring good news, that is, the realisation of the wishes and hopes expressed in these lines.With my esteem and blessing,
+ Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem