December 19, 2012. (Romereports.com)
This time of year, when most people think about the Holy Land, they visualize the joy of Christmas and all the celebrations that come with it. But for Christians living in the Holy Land
, which is about two percent of the population, the day to day reality is much more challenging.
Looking back just a few years ago, the population was much higher. CARD. EDWIN O' BRIEN
Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre “Thirty or forty percent, but most of the people have fled because of the pressures there. There are no jobs, they can´t travel, great repression in that part of the world and it´s a shame.”
American Cardinal Edwin O'Brien visited the Holy Land on December 1st,
under his new role of Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. He says, Israel's plans to set up 30,000 new settlements will complicate things
even further with Palestinians. CARD. EDWIN O' BRIEN
Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre “The more that that land is taken away from them and settlements, permanent settlements are built up, it´s going to be virtually impossible to envision a free Palestinian state.”
Precisely to help that small, but vivid Christian community, more than 30,000 members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
dedicate their time, knowledge and resources. Their donations help fund 45 schools and more than 60 parishes
and several orphanages in the Holy Land.
He says one of the biggest challenges is actually having an open debate about the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
CARD. EDWIN O' BRIEN
Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre “For some reason we can´t openly debate these things in the United States where we´re afraid to be accused of anti antisemitism, but the discussion in Israel among the Jewish people is much livelier.”
In the meantime, O' Brien says visits from outside pilgrims help out this Christian community, not just financially, but emotionally.
CARD. EDWIN O' BRIEN
Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre “The midnight Mass is something that is known world wide, that´s a sign for Christians that there is still life in the Church, there is concern for them on the part of the Church Universal.”
Even though challenges do exist, Cardinal O'Brien says he made sure this small community of Christians knows it's not forgotten...