The number of Palestinian Christians has been dwindling in recent years. Currently, Christians are roughly 2 percent of the population of the Holy Land, down from about 10 percent at the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948. In Bethlehem, they are less than one third of the population, down from 75 percent a few decades ago.
Addressing President Abbas directly he said, “you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker.” He referred to the good relations developed between the Holy See and Palestine, and thanked the president for the efforts being made towards an agreement regarding the life and religious freedom of the Catholic community in the State of Palestine.
“Respect for this fundamental human right” he added, is “one of the essential conditions for peace, fraternity and harmony. It tells the world that it is possible and necessary to build harmony and understanding between different cultures and religions. It also testifies to the fact that, since the important things we share are so many, it is possible to find a means of serene, ordered and peaceful coexistence, accepting our differences and rejoicing that, as children of the one God, we are all brothers and sisters.”
AP contributed to this report.
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser