Card Filoni: Peace in Palestine is possible only if everyone’s right is recognized

«Peaceful coexistence is possible, but it must be built»

Peace in the Holy Land, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Hamas and Israeli rights, and the possible solution, were some of the questions that came to the fore and to which Cardinal Fernando Filoni responded in a meeting with journalists in Rome a few days ago to explain the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. As well as the important support that this institution gives to those who live in the Holy Land, also from an economic point of view, with around 13 million euros per year, thanks to the contribution of its almost 30 thousand members.

Regarding the situation in the Middle East, the cardinal reiterated without hesitation: “Peaceful coexistence is possible, but it must be built.” “We need to put an end to those forms of prejudice that are difficult to eradicate. Each person’s politics and attitude can contribute to building and establishing a different climate,” he said.

Because “violent actions on one side or the other cause conflict situations that later become enormous. We remain on the principle that peace is possible only if it is done in justice and the recognition of the rights of all, of all”.

Although he immediately clarified that the Order of the Holy Sepulcher “is not the architect of peace,” “we can be the workers.” Indicating, for example, that “in our schools, where we have 20 thousand students, of which more than half are Muslims, boys and girls, Christians, live together. It seems to me that this is building peace from the roots.”

“This shows that you can live peacefully in Jerusalem, especially in the Old Holy City, where Muslims, Christians and Jews live. If we have succeeded in demonstrating that peace is possible, this can be said for the entire Holy Land”.

His Eminence also recalled his visit last year and the beginning of this year as “a sign of solidarity, closeness, affection, at a time when there are no tourists or pilgrims”, so “with all the businesses closed, with people who don’t work.”

When asked if there is persecution of Christians? The cardinal indicated that “we cannot speak of persecution, there may be situations of discrimination or expressions of contempt, which are part of the manifestations of Jews or Muslims. But they are also common in our European societies. Not of institutions, but of small groups or of individuals”.

This situation “does not diminish the commitment that the Order has with the Holy Land and with the citizens who live there,” stressing that this territory “belongs to Jews, Muslims and Christians.”

“For this reason we cannot fail to accept – continued Cardinal Filoni – the right to security that Israel has to live in its country, just as we cannot fail to accept, in the same way, the right of Muslims to live in this land. And the same goes for Christians and other minorities who live in the Holy Land.”

The Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher specified that “Israel cannot be denied the right to exist, no one can say that they are for the destruction of Israel, this generates new violence. Just as no one can say that we must destroy the Palestinians. On the other hand, if the formula of two States, one State or which form is better is chosen, it is discussed at a table and discussed. But the right to existence must be guaranteed and defended by everyone.”

In the Palestinian world – continued the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples – there are harsh realities, as in the Israeli world. So it is necessary to slowly empty this hatred, these tensions, because if they are not emptied, then it is almost natural for them to inflame and then explode. Peace is possible, we must desire it, work for it, we must not commit injustice because otherwise we will never achieve peace.”

The Grand Chancellor Emeritus of the Pontifical Urbaniana University of Rome also indicated that “when in the Palestinian world one finds that their land is being occupied, illegally, which is Palestinian land, this is not normal, it is an act of violence. No It is about creating a balance between one side and the other, but these imbalances, this violence, cause conflict situations that later become enormous. We remain on the principle that peace is possible if it is done in justice and in the recognition of the rights of everyone.”

Asked about the increase in demonstrations against Israelis, the cardinal indicated that “anti-Semitism grows when violence increases.” He added that “there are two realities that exist in the two territories, some are beautiful realities, others are not. We must eliminate the reasons for friction. So having two States or just one, or whatever is considered, depends on what you want to plan, but with the full rights of both, without first, second or third class citizens.”

How many Christians have lived for centuries in the Middle East – the cardinal recalled – with the concept of ‘dhimmitude’, the tax that Christians must pay in the Muslim world? Dhimmi as a culture exists.  And he said: “In Iraq a Christian told me, I had an accident, I was right, but I went to a judge, and he told me that you are a Christian, so your word is worth less than that of a Muslim.”

Regarding the ‘divine right’ to seize territory or something, Cardinal Filoni explained that it is difficult to use this principle, because “before it was a land of Jews it was a land where others lived.” Instead, “today the principle is that whoever lives, is born or comes to this land has the right to be in peace.”

To enter the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher

The number one of the Order explained that we are less than thirty thousand, every year about a thousand new knights or ladies join us who do a preparation itinerary of no less than a year, who are introduced by someone and enter more by attraction. Regarding the requirements to enter, he indicated: “The same ones that the Church asks of every good Christian: that he be Catholic, that he wants to participate in this commitment to the Holy Land, that he wants to enter into this spirituality, which is at the service of the local Church itself. and that provides the contribution of a testimony”.

“We are not asking,” he added, “that they be supermen or superwomen, but rather people who walk in the Church with that spirit that every Christian must have, especially if he feels linked to the fundamental mystery of the Passion, death and resurrection of the Lord.” .

The cardinal considered the appointment of a cardinal in the Holy Land, made by Pope Francis for the first time in history, very positive, since it allows “even the mother Church of Jerusalem, with its highest representative, to participate in the election of the successor of the apostle Peter”.