Pres. Rivlin’s Easter greetings to the leaders of the Christian Churches

For the fourth consecutive year, Pres. Reuven “Rubi” Rivlin met with the heads of the Christian Churches of the Holy Land to wish them a happy Easter. After the visits to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, to the Armenian Patriarchate and the Latin Patriarchate that have taken place in the past few years, this year, the meeting was held on April 24 at the headquarters of the Melkite Archdiocese of Haifa. To welcome the President of the State of Israel was Mons. George Bacouni, the Greek Catholic archbishop of Acre, who spoke on behalf of all of the heads of the Churches present in the hall. Only the Armenians, who were engaged in the commemoration of the Armenian genocide (April 24, 1915), were not present at the event. Prof. Zaher Azzam welcomed those present and introduced the speeches.

Mons. George Bacouni thanked the president for his presence and for his commitment to supporting the Arab community. “This state is our own flesh and blood; we share a national and cultural identity, which will always be a fundamental component of Israeli society,” he said to the President. “It is no secret that our Arab community lacks security and integration and our villages suffer shortage of land, houses, infrastructure and contributions to local authorities. We hope these issues continue to be on your agenda.” Mons. Bacouni also congratulated Pres. Rivlin for the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, which was celebrated a few days ago.

The President of the State of Israel then took the floor: “I want to emphasize to all of us here today, to all the people living together in the Holy Land: we are not condemned to live together, it is our destiny to live together. We must try to work together for the best. Today we celebrate the miracle of life together; we celebrate together because, today, we are one community,” continued Rivlin. “I am proud of Israel’s commitment to religious freedom for every community, [and] I am proud of the strong success of the Christian communities in Israel. I am proud of the leadership shown by each one of your communities.” Pres. Rivlin recalled that Mons. Bacouni is the leader of the largest Christian community in the Holy Land, and for this reason, he extended special wishes to him. He then concluded with a prayer: “This is not an easy time. We always hope for peace and prosperity in the Middle East. So, please join me in prayer for each of our suffering neighbors, for our brothers and sisters.”

The meeting was also attended by the mayor of Haifa, Yona Yahav, who recalled the coexistence between peoples living in Haifa: “Everyone is mixed together and they are happy this way. This example must be exported, Mr. President, because if this is possible here, it is possible everywhere,” Yona Yahav continued. In regards to Christians, he said, “We are fortunate that we have this community in our city.”
At the end of the meeting, the Heads of Churches and Pres. Rivlin toasted with a glass of wine, before the usual photo opportunity and final greetings.

Beatrice Guarrera

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