Fr. Faltas: Christians enduring war in Holy Land in faith and hope

Father Ibrahim Faltas, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, reflects on the realities faced by Christian communities in the Holy Land, underscoring the importance of solidarity, prayer, and unwavering faith in times of turmoil.

Apr 11, 2024

Father Ibrahim Faltas, Vicar of the Custos of the Holy Land

By Francesca Merlo
In an interview with the Vatican's Fides news agency, Father Ibrahim Faltas, the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, highlighted many of the challenges faced by Christian communities in the Holy Land, in light of the ongoing war in Gaza.

Fr. Faltas began by emphasising the severity of the situation, quoting Pope Francis, who has often said that "war is always a defeat.”

Plight of Christian communities
Reflecting on the situation in which Christian communities find themselves, Fr. Faltas described the circumstances in Gaza, explaining that “for Christians who are a minority in the Holy Land, it becomes a very difficult tragedy to face."

Fr. Faltas then recounted a touching moment, in which a parish priest was overcome with joy after finding a single red apple, the first fruit seen in six months of conflict, which he then shared with his parishioners.

The West Bank and Israel
Turning to the West Bank and Israel, Fr. Faltas highlighted the economic ramifications of the conflict.

"In the West Bank, not have jobs due to the lack of pilgrimages,” he said. “They see no future for their families and many would like to leave the Holy Land."

He noted that even in Israel, "Christian communities live and suffer the consequences of war.”

Fr. Faltas went on to address the difficulties communities in the West Bank have in contacting those in Gaza. “Unfortunately, the Christian communities of the Holy Land cannot have contact with each other, despite the physical proximity of these places,” he said, noting that “thank God, technology has made it possible for us to hear from each other and to sustain each other in prayer.”

Devastating toll on human life
Turning to address the political dimensions of the conflict, Fr. Faltas refrained from analysis, saying, “I am not a political analyst," though he noted that after decades of serving in the country he knows the situation well.

“For years I have believed that the international community has to intervene to try to bring peace to this part of the world so in need of peace,” he noted, emphasising the huge loss of lives, particularly those of innocent children.

“Children, like all children in the world, are the first victims of these atrocities,” he said, wondering, “Who will erase the psychological traumas of children, of all children, regardless of their nationality or religious belief?”

Pope Francis: ally of peace
Fr. Faltas concluded by commending Pope Francis for his endless advocacy for peace.

“Pope Francis' appeals support and give strength to the Christians of the Holy Land and, believe me, not only to Christians,” he said, noting that he was “the first and, for a long time, the only one to call for a ceasefire.”--Vatican News

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