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Church and Peace
International Office

Church and Peace is a ecumenical network of Christian communities, churches and organisations in Europe committed to the peace church vision.

Christmas peace and justice messages for Bethlehem

Brussels/Vienna/Schoeffengrund
25 November 2002

Dear friends,

For the third consecutive year Christmas celebrations will take place in a climate of fear for all the peoples in the Holy Land. This climate of fear results from the continuing violence by both sides - occupation, suicide bombings and military operations -, violence which causes great suffering for the local population and greatly reduces any prospects for a just and peaceful solution of the conflict.

Pax Christi International, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), and Church and Peace are supporting an initiative of our partners in Bethlehem -- the Arab Educational Institute (AEI), the Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (CCRR) and Wi'am Center -- inviting all our members to e-mail wishes and prayers for peace.

Despite the harsh and difficult conditions resulting from closures and occupation, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is still first and foremost a city of peace. 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. It can also help overcome the despair that is felt by the local population, despair that is felt even more profoundly now than in previous years.

The wishes and prayers will be distributed by our partners, and some of them read immediately after Christmas during a nonviolent march in Bethlehem in support of justice and peace in the region.

All individual members and all member organisations and partners are invited to e-mail Christmas wishes and prayers for peace to christmas-message@paxchristi.net for forwarding to the partners in Bethlehem. Please do this before 25 December. English is the preferred language, however non-native English speakers may also send wishes and prayers in their mother tongue. Some of these messages will go directly to Bethlehem and at the same time be put on the website of Pax Christi International at www.paxchristi.net/christmas/

During the same period IFOR and Pax Christi International national branches and partners and Church and Peace members and friends are also encouraged to organise national, regional or local prayer services or vigils for peace in the region. The prayers and messages sent to Bethlehem could be incorporated into such services and vigils.

Please distribute this message by e-mail as widely as possible.

With kind regards,

Etienne De Jonghe
Pax Christi International Secretary

Dr Hildegarde Goss-Mayr
Hon. President of IFOR

Marie-NoŽlle von der Recke
Church and Peace General Secretary