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Franciscan Friary
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THE MINISTER GENERAL RECEIVED IN AUDIENCE
BY HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II

Greetings by the Minister general

At 11.30, today the 19th of Aprile 2002, the Minister general, Br. Giacomo Bini, was received in audience by the Holy Father. He addressed the Pope with these words (this is a free translation of the original italian text):

I first of all wish to express my personal gratefulness and that of the Brethren in Bethlehem and all the Order of Friars Minor for the interest and the worry with which Your Holiness is following the developments of the tragic situation in the Holy Land. Our Brethren living at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem feel themselves strongly encouraged by your vicinity, in these moments of trial, expressed also by your telephone call.

I wish also to thank, in the name of the Order, for the constant attention shown by the Secretary of State, for its aimed ad hoc statements decided in collaboration with the apostolic Nuncio, the Patriarch and the Custos of the Holy Land.

I can assure You that our Brethren are facing the dramatic situation in which they live with admirable equilibrium and extraordinary spirit, supported by the prayers of so many people who daily send in testimonies of solidarity.

Your Holiness, for over two weeks our Friars and Nuns are living in truly dramatic conditions, physically and psychologically: inside the complex of the Nativity numerous armed Palestinian are present, and on the outside the Israeli Army surrounds the complex of the Basilica. Now for several days they are without water, foodstuffs and electricity. Every day they try to support themselves with the little that still remains to share.

The same Holy Place is to the limit of profanation by the 250 Palestinian, who too are at the limit of their strength: a situation that does not contribute to alleviate the tensions.

To us it seems important to continue to insist with the Parties in conflict about the character of the humanitarian emergency of this situation, an emergency that demands an urgent humanitarian intervention to save lives. There is no further solution except dialogue, as Your Holiness keeps insisting, and for those who at this moment are in Bethlehem the solution cannot be further postponed.

We are informed of marked difficulties to initiate dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian Commissions in view of a fair compromise and a peaceful solution. It is important, therefore, to vigorously demand this encounter, besides the respect and application of the internationally recognised norms that protect the Holy Shrines; it is only in this way that it will be possible for our Friars to continue to guarantee the custody of those Places that are common patrimony of all the Christian world.

All the world is watching with attention to what is happening at the birth Site of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace. Men and women of every creed awaits for the miracle of a new life that defeats thoughts and actions of death.

Most blessed Father, help us be faithful to the mission that the Church has entrusted us with: with your highest moral authority, universally recognised, continue to support every initiative that can open up a new future of peace for the Land of Jesus. Your blessing will be for all of use, and above all for the Brethren of Bethlehem, the most effective encouragement to bring to fulfilment the service that is entrusted to us.

Br. Giacomo Bini ofm
Minister general

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Created / Updated Friday, April 19, 2002 at 22:51:57 by John Abela ofm
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