Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
Bishop places his hopes on the Israeli Supreme Court
Montreal, Wednesday January 29, 2014 – Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem hopes that Israel’s Supreme Court will find a just solution in the Cremisan case. The bishop imparted in conversation with the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) last Monday.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court judges in the final court of appeal will hear the objections of Christian plaintiffs against the building of the Israeli security barrier. The court had originally set the date of the hearing for December 25, but after protests by the plaintiffs, the date it was moved to today, January 29.
The flame of hope is not extinguished
Bishop Shomali who is responsible for the Palestinian territories in the Latin Patriarchate, said: “My sceptical head tells me there will not be a decision that will benefit the people of Cremisan, because Israel’s security is holy. But my heart refuses to resign and tells me there is still hope. After all, we have prayed a great deal and made a lot of effort. So the flame of hope is not yet extinguished.”
Looming in the background, is the threatened confiscation of the properties of 58 Christian families in the Cremisan Valley at Beit Jala near Bethlehem, in order to build a barrier between Israel and the occupied territories. Two convents in the largely agricultural district are also affected. The Israeli army emphasized that the planned course of the wall through the terraces of the Cremisan Valley, is strictly necessary for security reasons. The Palestinian plaintiffs do not see this as convincing and point to alternative routes. Most recently, an objection to the army’s plans was rejected last year by a Tel Aviv court.
Every Friday, those affected in the locality pray for a just solution. Last year the Catholic pastor of the community, Ibrahim Shomali, gave the auxiliary bishop a letter to be delivered to Pope Francis in Rome, in which the Pope was requested to help. But Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali dampened the hopes expressed by some of those affected that the Pope might make a public stand on behalf of Cremisan during his visit to the Holy Land in May. “The Catholic Church has intervened in various ways, for example through the US Bishops’ Conference. The Cremisan file is on the desk of Secretary of State Kerry,” said Shomali. “But with regard to a possible intervention by the Holy Father himself, I must remind you that there are many questions of justice in the world and in the Holy Land. Should the Pope involve himself, he will do so discretely, for example in private talks and through the Nunciature. Pope Francis wants results, not just confrontation.”