Yves Teyssier D'Orfeuil, Michel Sabbah: Paix sur Jerusalem. Propos D'un Eveque Palestinien.

AuthorKreutz, Andrej
PositionBook Review

Yves Teyssier D'Orfeuil, Michel Sabbah: Paix sur Jerusalem. Propos D'un Eveque Palestinien (Paris: Desclee de Brauwer, 2002), 297 pages,

THE AUTHOR, A FRENCH HISTORIAN and political scientist, who spent two years teaching at the Catholic University in Bethlehem, writes on the life and teaching of the first Palestinian Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Michel Sabbah and on the native Christians of the Holy Land and Jordan who have been almost forgotten in the West. The book which provides a historical introduction to the present situation and discusses in depth the teaching of the Palestinian Roman Catholic Bishop, on the whole represents a rather unique compendium of knowledge about some of the most disputed religious and political issues of the era.

Msgr. Michel Sabbah is only one of the Patriarchs of the Holy City alongside the Greek Orthodox and Armenian ones. He is also the only Palestinian Arab among them and the local Arab Christians are very proud of him. In addition to Israel/Palestine, his jurisdiction extends to Jordan and Cyprus and his Latin Church, together with the Greek Orthodox Church, is the most important one among the thirteen main Christian churches of the Middle Eastern mosaic. With the exception of the minuscule Hebrew Language Catholic community in Israel, his faithful are essentially all Palestinian and Jordanian Arabs who share the fate of their Muslim compatriots, including the severe oppression and acute conflicts with Israel. Being their pastor and advocate, Msgr. Sabbah is also a Catholic bishop and theologian who is obliged to be open and compassionate to the Israeli side and to reflect in depth on the mystery of Israel and Palestine in the biblical context. According to him, to be a Christian in the Holy Land now is both a vocation and a spiritual, moral and psychological struggle. In order to help his people to pass through this difficult period, he wants to offer them the best possible encouragement: hope (p. 9).

From the end of World War I until now, the Arab Christian Communities of the Middle East, which particularly in the Holy Land and Syria are probably the oldest in the world, face many tremendous challenges. The division of the post-Ottoman Arab East among a number of small political entities, the establishment of the Zionist settlers' state of Israel, and the concomitant displacement of the majority of Palestinians led to political and social upheaval in the region which had a very negative impact...

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