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Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Mt 2:2
The Visit of the Magi (SBF Collection - Till 1869 in the Nativity Grotto)


bullet 31.12.2004: Dialogue Between Religions is a Must
Mohammad Rabit Nablusi, a muslim cleric, interviewed in Damascus (Syria). "Dialogue between religions is not disadvantageous; on the contrary, it is a necessity. There are no obstacles to dialogue with other religions as long as we do not compromise our own. Many in the West don't view Islam according to books, but according to the current situation of Muslims. It seems unlikely that Muslims will be able to solve their problems if they do not turn from poverty towards development, from ignorance towards science, from bigotry towards tolerance for all. (al-Zaman)

bullet 30.12.2004: Israel says important archaeological artifacts may be forged
Experts advised world museums to re-examine their Bible-era relics after Israel indicted four collectors and dealers on charges of forging some of the most important artifacts of recent decades. The investigation trained a spotlight on the sometimes murky antiquities trade in the Holy Land. "There is no control over something that doesn't come from a proper excavation, photographed and documented," Dorfman said. (CNN-AP)

bullet 29.12.2004: Catholic aid in Asia going to quake victims
Solidarity and help from local Churches across Asia is getting under way. For the first time, Chinese Catholics send money for help abroad. Local Churches across Asia are responding with aid, funds and prayers in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated coastal areas in south and south-east Asia (Asianews)

bullet 28.12.2004: Franciscan Diego Madera, ordained a deacon
On 27 December Brother Diego Madera, a Franciscan friar from the province of Saints Francis and James in Mexico, was ordained a deacon. The Ordination Mass was presided by His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. (CTS)

bullet 27.12.2004: His Beatitude Ireneos I, Greek Orthodox Patriarch, extends Christmas greetings to the Holy Land Custos, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Today, at 8.40 a.m. the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ireneos, accompanied by a numerous group of Orthodox monks, came for an official visit to the Custos of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, to extend the Christmas greetings of the Greek Orthodox community to the Franciscans of the Holy Land. The traditional meeting, programmed according to an ancient ceremonial of Jerusalem, this year has taken a particular significance. (CTS)

bullet 25.12.2004: Celebration of the Nativity in Bethlehem: 25 December 2004
The celebrations in Bethlehem continued after the Midnight Mass all during Christmasday. The participation of the faithful, particularly of those coming from the town of Bethlehem, was very strong, but they were not alone… (CTS)

bullet 25.12.2004: Bethlehem. Celebration of the Midnight Mass at Bethlehem
The parish church of Saint Catherine, adjacent to the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, was packed with pilgrims, local Christians, priests and Franciscan friars of the Holy Land Custody, for the celebration of the Nativity Mass. During the homily the Patriarch welcomed the representatives of the Palestinian Authority, and afterwards spoke about the meaning of the mystery of Christmas in the context of the current situation in the Holy Land. (CTS)

bullet 24.12.2004: The Christmas festivities begin in Bethlehem
The Patriarch arrived at the door of the Basilica after a long delay at 2.45 p.m. Waiting to receive him there was the Guardian of the Franciscan Fraternity of Bethlehem, Father Justo Artaraz. After the ritual welcoming he went in through the low door, and entered the Basilica of the Nativity, and from there he passed into the cloister of the Franciscan friary and entered the parish church of Saint Catherine. One could notice a good presence of pilgrims, who joined the local population of Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas. (CTS)

bullet 24.12.2004: Christian Leaders of Jerusalem: A message of hope
The patriarchs and heads of the Christian churches in Jerusalem believe that there are "small signs of hope" despite the violence in the Holy Land. "We go to Bethlehem to adore the mystery of Christmas, despite the grave difficulties our people are still experiencing. (Zenit)

bullet 24.12.2004: Boy Jesus Image Created from Turin Shroud
Italian policemen who specialize in the analysis of violent crimes have rejuvenated the image of the bearded man that appears on the Shroud of Turin, producing what they claim is a close possible likeness of Jesus when he was a boy. (Discovery)

bullet 23.12.2004: Christmas, peace in the Holy Land, peace on earth
For the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem, the birth of Christ and the faith of Christians and pilgrims are a source of optimism and peace. Tentative steps towards dialogue between Israel and Palestine and the attention of the world and the Church are signs of hope. (Asia News)

bullet 23.12.2004: Kerala Christians demand concessions for Jerusalem trip
Kerala's Christian community are demanding special grants and travel concessions for undertaking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. This year, over 100 devotees have already left for the holy land from Kochi International Airport. (Web India)

bullet 23.12.2004: Interim Palestinian President Wants to Attend Midnight Mass
Rawhi Fattuh, interim president of the Palestinian National Authority, announced to Church officials that he wants to attend Midnight Mass at St. Catherine's Church, the Franciscan parish church adjoining the Basilica of the Nativity. (Zenit)

bullet 22.12.2004: A Iowan couple on a two-week tour of Egypt and the Holy Land
The purpose of the Nov. 10-24 trip, sponsored by the Society for Biblical Studies, was to trace the storied exodus of the Israeli people from Egypt. But a side trip to Israel also offered the visitors some insight into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its effects on the everyday lives of people there. (The North Scott Press)

bullet 22.12.2004: Ann's awe over Bethlehem Mass
A Coventry woman will be taking part in a Christmas Mass at a Bethlehem church and spending her holidays on a peace mission in Palestine. (ic Coventry)

bullet 22.12.2004: Christmas message released by H.B. patriarch Michel Sabbah
Peace is the destiny of the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem said in his annual Christmas message. Christmas, the patriarch said, is "a promise of life, joy and dignity in the presence of God who has chosen our land to be his dwelling." (Catholic News Service)

bullet 21.12.2004: Coptic Patriarch in retreat to protest anti-Christian discrimination
Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III went into retreat to protest Muslim discrimination against Egyptian Christians. “The Patriarch will remain in retreat,” his secretary said, “till the time the government has found a solution his conscience can accept”. (Asia News)
Arab sources tell Patriarch's retreat has ended but situation remains tense.

bullet 21.12.2004: Center in Nazareth to Highlight Mary's Impact in History
A modern international center of art, spirituality and theological reflection is to be built in the Holy Land and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The proposed center will be built across from the Basilica of the Annunciation. Bishop Marcuzzo said that the project is intended to "highlight Mary's role in history, starting from Nazareth." (Zenit)

bullet 21.12.2004: UN: "Costs of Conflict. The Changing Face of Bethlehem"
As Christmas approaches in Bethlehem, two UN bodies have published a report on the devastating impact that Israeli policies have had on the little hilltop town, where according to the New Testament, Jesus Christ was born 2,000 years ago. (UN News Centre)

bullet 20.12.2004: December 22 Appeal for Urgent Action to End Conflict in Holy Land
Palestinian Lutheran Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has called on the global Lutheran communion and its partners to support an initiative of the Roman Catholic bishops in the Middle East and Africa to observe Wednesday, December 22 as a day of fasting and prayer for Israel and Palestine. (LWF)

bullet 20.12.2004: Christmas message by the Custos of the Holy Land
Dear brothers and sisters and all people of good will, we are joyfully united to the voice of the prophet to proclaim not only to daughter Zion, but also to the whole world: Behold, your savior arrives. (CTS)

bullet 19.12.2004: The search for the real Bethlehem … in Galilee
Some people are proposing an alternative place for Jesus's birth. They say the evidence points to a village a few miles west of Nazareth which also goes by the name of Bethlehem. To distinguish it from its more famous namesake, the village in northern Israel is usually referred to as Bethlehem of the Galilee, or in Hebrew as Bethlehem HaGalilit. (Al Jazeera)
Anything but the real one.

bullet 18.12.2004: John Paul II Urges Catholic-Jewish Friendships
John Paul II encouraged bonds of friendships between Catholics and Jews, as he received 18 delegates of the Anti-Defamation League in audience. The meeting was characterized by the moving testimony of ADL president Abraham Foxman, who told the Pope that he owed his life to a Polish Catholic woman who risked her life by forging documents to impede his being sent to Nazi concentration camps. (Zenit)

bullet 18.12.2004: Uncertainty on Christmas Eve for the peoples and governments of Israel and Palestine
The Palestinian elections, the withdrawal of Barghouti’s candidacy and the crisis of the Sharon government have increased the sense of impotence and insecurity in the two peoples. (Asia News)

bullet 17.12.2004: Will Israel maintain roadblocks to peace?
After refusing to deal with Yasser Arafat for the last four years, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, backed by President Bush, now appears willing to open peace talks with a new Palestinian leader -- most likely Mahmoud Abbas, seen as a "moderate" -- following Palestinian elections on Jan. 9. (ZNet)

bullet 17.12.2004: Message of pope John Paul II for 2005 World Day of Peace
"I again make an appeal to all men of good will to finally lay down their arms and undertake the path of confident and fraternal dialogue," he said. "Violence does not serve the cause of peoples or their development." (Zenit)

bullet 16.12.2004: Vatican delegation astonished by cancellation of meeting with Israel
Vatican delegation members were astonished when a Dec. 15 meeting with the Israeli Foreign Ministry aimed at finalizing taxation issues was canceled hours before the meeting was to take place, said a source close to the delegation. (Catholic News Service)

bullet 16.12.2004: A Christmas Story from Amman - Jordan
I was invited to one of the many Christmas concerts that are happening around town, and saw Muslim Arab children taking part in singing Christmas carols and being applauded by their hijab wearing mothers. I’ve lived away from here for so long that I returned with the notion that tolerance exists only in the West. I was wrong. Tolerance can be found right here in the heart of the Arab world. (S. Sabawi - My Palestinian Diary)

bullet 16.12.2004: Muslim attitudes towards Christians must change
What if Muslims, rather than separating themselves on the belief that Islam is a better religion, embraced not only Christians but Jews and treated them as equals, rather than as “tolerated” peoples in a system of ancient “millets,” religious distinctions for Armenians, Jews, Catholics and Orthodox Christians under the Ottoman sultunates. (Media Monitors Network)

bullet 15.12.2004: Agenda change in Israel-Holy See talks
The Israeli government informed the Holy See at the last moment that its delegation would not take part in today’s talks. (Asianews)

bullet 14.12.2004: Arab Christians between thoughts of subjugation and freedom
Christian communities native to the Middle East are passing through turbulent times. Two distinct historical narratives define the way of life and the destiny of the Middle East's diverse indigenous Christian communities. On one side lies the vast majority of Christian Arabs in their respective regional and cultural contexts. Since the rise and spread of Islam these communities have been relentlessly reduced to dhimmi status, or second-class status in their own homelands, being forced to forfeit any semblance of free existence. On the other side stand the Christians of Lebanon, numerically a minority, but with a unique historical experience of freedom. (Daily Star)

bullet 12.12.2004: Diary of the Visit of the Discretorium in Lebanon and Syria (17th-25th November 2004)
The Father Custos and the members of his Discretorium met at Saint Savior’s Monastery at 9 a.m. in order to start their journey in Lebanon and Syria. They thanked the Lord for the gift of life and of a beautiful day, and set out full of excitement, not only because of the distances they had to cover, but also because of all the issues which lay before them. After having invoked divine help they set out, full of trust, and drove to Allenby Bridge. Photos (CTS)

bullet 11.12.2004: 'Yes to Peace, No to the Wall'. Is this "the Third Intifada"?
A Short History of "the Wall" encircling Palestinian town and villages. The Wall has become the focus of media attention, and turned into a political issue in Israel and abroad. And a "Third Intifada" has started in the form of a popular, non-violent uprising: in villages like Budrus, party affiliation and other differences are put aside, and the whole village marches together time after time to demonstrate against the Israeli bulldozers. (Antiwar)

bullet 10.12.2004: Celebrating Hannukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, in America
Ever since Jodi Gillette put away the Thanksgiving decorations two weeks ago and pulled out the Hanukkah box, menorahs and dreidels have bedecked the inside of her Lynchburg home, preparing her family of four for the Jewish holiday that began Tuesday. (News & Advance)

bullet 8.12.2004: Learning all the wrong facts
A study of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks shows how both sides tell the narrative of the conflict from their own perspective, ignoring the other side. (Haaretz)

bullet 6.12.2004: E-mail Advent and Christmas wishes and prayers for peace
You are invited to e-mail Advent and Christmas wishes and prayers for peace to the people in the Holy Land.  These messages will be sent to our partners in Bethlehem who will distribute them and use them in a variety of spiritual and educational contexts. Sending a wish or a prayer by e-mail is an important way of communicating with the many people who long to hear a word of hope. (Pax Christi)

bullet 4.12.2004: Moratinos returns to the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem
More than two years have passed since 10th May 2002, when after 38 days of siege, the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Franciscan friars have enjoyed the light of freedom once more. Miguel Angel Moratinos, the special envoy of the European Union to the Middle East, played an important part in bringing about a happy ending to this drama. Photos (CTS)

bullet 04.12.2004: Israeli Ambassador cautiously optimistic about negotiations with Vatican
Negotiations between Israel and the Vatican are at a ‘crucial point’ beyond which a new phase in the relations between the two parties will begin, this according to Israel’s Ambassador to the Holy See Oded Ben Hur who was speaking about the talks concerning the fundamental accord between Israel and the Vatican. (Asianews)

bullet 03.12.2004: An American visit to Bethlehem
A group of American university students visited Bethlehem University, in Bethlehem of the nativity fame, in the Palestinian Territories. They discussed with their Palestinian peers a number of issues, including mutual perceptions or mispercept. (HCEF)

bullet 29.11.2004: Pope Entrusts "Notre Dame of Jerusalem" to Legionaries of Christ
John Paul II entrusted to the Legionaries of Christ the direction and administration of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, the Holy See's religious, charitable, cultural and educational institute in that city. The Pope communicated his decision through a document issued "motu propio" i.e. "on his own initiative". (Zenit)

bullet 28.11.2004: Constantinople. Ceremony in Patriarchate for Holy Relics return
Speaking after the ceremony, Patriarch Bartholomeos said that they had seen a historic day thanks to good relationships between the Catholic and Orthodox world which had seen the restoration of the relics. Bartholomeos said. "There was a good ceremony in Vatican. We have repeated our invitation for the Pope to come to Turkey. I guess he will come in 2005." (Zaman - Turkey)

bullet 27.11.2004: Feast of Saint Catherine in Bethlehem
The feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, in Bethlehem, was celebrated on the 27th and 28th of November. Saint Catherine is the titular saint of the church and friary which the Custody of the Holy Land has in Bethlehem, besides being also the patron saint of the same Catholic parish of Bethlehem. Photos (CTS)

bullet 26.11.2004: Return of Relics to Rekindle Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue
On Saturday, John Paul II is scheduled to turn over the relics of the doctors of the Eastern Church to Patriarch Bartholomew I, in an ecumenical ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica. Theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is expected to resume after the relics of Sts. Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom are returned to the patriarch of Constantinople. (Zenit)

bullet 26.11.2004: Note from the Custody of the Holy Land
With reference to the declarations attributed by Asia News to a Jordanian priest regarding the fact that, according to him, the Christian sanctuaries belong "not only to Christians, but also to all Arabs, Muslims and Christians alike" (LINK), we deem it important to point out that the Christian sanctuaries belong to the respective Churches and ecclesiastical Entities which are their proprietors, and that, in a symbolic sense, they could also be seen as being a spiritual Patrimony of all humanity, without infringing upon the patrimonial rights of the above-mentioned proprietors. (CTS)

bullet 25.11.2004: Historic Joint statement Pledging to Cooperate signed by Israeli and Palestinian Tourism Ministers
“Believing that tourism is not only a major economic force, and an important tool for [a] nation’s prosperity, but also a means of bringing peace and building bridges of confidence between peoples of the Middle East, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities…announce that both ministries will cooperate in promoting tourism to the Holy Land.” (Travel Video)
More about this in "Jerusalem Post" (LINK).

bullet 22.11.2004: Professors offer perspectives on Middle East
Attempting to understand the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in the context of Yassir Arafat's legacy is not an easy task to undertake. Rather than start an examination in the ancient and biblical roots of the conflict, Dr. Beth Glazier-McDonald - a scholar of the Hebrew Bible and biblical literature at Centre College - says, a crucial time period to begin research is 1947-1949. (The Advocate-Messenger - KY)

bullet 19.11.2004: Representatives of all Churches: Pilgrims, come to the Holy Land
"A call to all people of faith: Visit the Holy Land".  This is the title of a document signed by representatives of different Christian denominations in Jerusalem this week, to encourage Christians around the world to resume visits to the Holy Sites. "There are many things that divide Christians, but there are many more that unite us. The Holy Land is one of these," Fr. Pizzaballa said. (Asianews)

bullet 19.11.2004: The Children's Peace Project Builds Family Ties in Washington, D.C.
A mother of one of the host families last year commented that she was afraid at first to host a Palestinian "terrorist" in her home, but that after having a chance to share her life with that child for a month, she now has a Palestinian son. (HCEF)

bullet 18.11.2004: Bethlehem hotels offer a special deal for Christmas
In Palestinian hotel owners said they hope a new Christmas initiative will return pilgrims to Bethlehem, West Bank, for the holiday. "Bethlehem has been almost completely closed for the past two years, but now the borders are a bit easier for tourists to cross," said Yusef Daher, executive director of the Arab Hotel Association, adding that Bethlehem has always been safe for pilgrims. "This Christmas will be meant for pilgrims coming to pray in the city," he said. (Catholic News Service)

bullet 17.11.2004: USA parishes and schools discover the plight of the Palestinian people
In recent years an increasing number of parishes have taken an interest in the plight of the Palestinian people — whether Christian or Muslim — and through formal and informal programs have set about to educate themselves about that region… At Assumption Parish in Mount Healthy, six Palestinian students and their teacher spent part of last month in Cincinnati through this Beacons of Hope Program. (Catholic Cincinnati)

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