ETCHMIADZIN (Armenpress)–On April 5–Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s His Holiness Karekin II sent letters to Ariel Sharon–Prime Minister of Israel–and Yasser Arafat–President of the Palestinian Authority–expressing concern for the current situation in the region.
In the letters–His Holiness wrote:
"The Holy Apostolic Armenian Church and our faithful throughout the world join peace-loving peoples everywhere in concern and dismay with the recent events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The unprecedented tension and clashes have endangered the peace and stability of the entire region–resulting in the death of many hundreds of men–women and children. With deep sympathy–We offer our prayers up to God for the souls of the innocent victims and ask for Divine consolation for the families of the slain.
"We are greatly disturbed–that in recent days–military action has occurred near the Shrines of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem–where the presence of armed forces has created a grave danger to the security of the Christian Holy Sites."
Reminding both the Israelis and the Palestinians that the Armenian Church has had a presence in the Holy Land for hundreds of years–His Holiness continued: "For centuries–the Holy Apostolic Armenian Church–through our Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem–along with our sister Christian Churches–has provided her service to Christianity–as one of the protectors and care-giving guarantors of the Holy Places."
Taking this into consideration–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s appeals to both sides "to employ every means–so that the Holy Sites of Bethlehem remain free from defilement and destruction."
His Holiness concludes by stating that he prays from the depths of his heart "that God in Heaven–through His unceasing mercy–will keep the Holy Land safe and calm–grant peace and reconciliation to the Israelis and the Palestinians–and spread his cloak of protection over all countries of the region."