Jerusalem Patriarchate – 26/1/2020
Note to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the Occasion of his Visit to the Church of the Nativity
His Beatitude Theophilos III
Patriarch of Jerusalem
Your Royal Highness, it is a great honour for us to welcome you here in Bethlehem the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the place that brought peace and justice upon the whole world.
Bethlehem is indeed a symbol of peace here, for Christians and Muslims, who live as a family and a united community, and the Church is also the place that is offering spiritual refreshment to thousands of pilgrims of all faiths and of all cultures and nationalities without any discrimination.
Your Highness’s presence here is highly appreciated and heartfelt for our region, which is facing many challenges, and your pilgrimage here is a tangible sign of your commitment to promoting and advancing peace and justice in the very birthplace of peace.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Please allow us to present to you on behalf of the church communities of the Holy Land this humble blessing.
Speech to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the Occasion of his Visit to the Church of the Nativity
His Beatitude Theophilos III
Patriarch of Jerusalem
Your Royal Highness,
Beloved Members of our Brotherhood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your Royal Highness, we welcome you warmly to Bethlehem and to the Church of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are delighted that you are in the Holy Land. Your presence among us is a great encouragement to the peoples of our region, and we are deeply grateful for the careful attention that you pay especially to the well-being of the Christian presence here. Whether we are meeting in London or here in the Holy City of Jerusalem, we are always heartened by your commitment.
As you are fully aware, the Christian presence here is an integral part of our social fabric and is crucial in maintaining the historic multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious landscape of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Without a thriving Christian community in the Holy Land, this region would lose its essential character, and no longer be the living land of the divine-human encounter to which the Christian presence here is a living witness;
“You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?”
The Church communities are no doubt facing challenges and the Heads of the Churches and Christian Communities are united in our firm opposition to this threat, and we have been supported in this by leaders locally and from around the world both in government and religion. We have had particularly strong support from Her Majesty’s Government and other British political leaders, as well as from His Grace, our dear brother, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
While we emphasize these challenges, we must also say that all the local authorities of the Holy Land have been working with us positively to help in dealing with these threats and challenges, and we are very grateful to all those who have joined in this effort;
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”
Together with the other Churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem stand ready to partner with all governments and people of good will to ensure the well-being of all the peoples of our region; for this is our pastoral mission entrusted to us by the Divine Providence;
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.
(Matthew 22: 37-39)
One of the prominent achievements of the growing body of international support for the Christian community in the Holy Land is the recent establishment of the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre [ICoHS];
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”.
While at the moment this society is drawing membership and support mostly from the United Kingdom and the United States, our hope is for truly international representation in membership. ICoHS is an intentionally ecumenical society, not bound to any one confession, with the active support of, among others, the Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the Protestant communities.
This is the first such ecumenical society of its kind to be established from the Holy Land, and it is our dearest hope that it will be a major source for good, both in bringing Christians from different communities together in common support of the Christian presence in the Holy Land and in strengthening international attention to the life and witness of the Christian community here.
Needless to say, Your Royal Highness, that we are deeply aware of your personal commitment to the Holy Land and to the Churches, here which keep and guard the holy places not as mere monuments but as places of worship, and we also understand that, in addition to your official and royal mission, you also come here as a pilgrim.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and the Sun of righteousness enlighten your mind and warm your heart.