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Minns prays for peace with the Palestinian community

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Palestinian Christians - The Catholic weekly
Bishop Robert Rabbat presents the gift of an icon of St John to NSW Premier Chris Minns. Photos: Jazz Chalouhi

Sydney’s Palestinian Christians said they were “optimistic” about peace in the Holy Land after NSW Premier Chris Minns and other civic leaders joined their community for Mass on 26 May.

Melkite Catholic Bishop Robert Rabbat presided at the Mass at St John the Beloved church in Greenacre to pray for peace in solidarity with the Palestinian community.

Also present were NSW Ministers Tony Burke, Steve Kamper and Jihad Dib, former president of the NSW Legislative Council John Ajaka, Canterbury Bankstown mayor Bilal El-Hayek and deputy mayor Rachelle Harika.

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“We thank you for taking the time to be with us, but everyone of us here myself included would actually like you to give us the whole day, to tell you our problems,” Bishop Rabbat told the political leaders at the conclusion of the Mass.

“Today we came to pray with our Palestinian community, to say that we hear your pain. Palestine is bleeding, no doubt. I wish I had the solution. I know that deep inside your heart Mr Premier, ministers and public officials God will give you the solution.

“And I’m sure that everyone is expecting Australia through God’s grace to give the solution.

“Because here we see people from all walks of life [for whom] Australia opened her arms and said you are more than welcome and we will give you the opportunity to live in peace.

“We look to you to offer this bleeding land the just peace it deserves.”

Following the Mass parishioner Reem Borrows handed her book, From the River to the Sea, to Premier Minns who promised to read it.

“It’s a heartfelt message saying why can’t we all live in harmony from the Jordan River to the sea and stop the division,” she told The Catholic Weekly.

“It’s a very important message.”

She said she was pleased to see the political leaders’ show of support “but only if it is genuine and not just a media opportunity.”

“There is a genocide happening, there is dehumanisation of Palestinians and if there’s a genuine effort to help to resolve this catastrophic situation, then yes, it’s good,” she said.

“So I’m hoping. None of us are really happy right now but we have to be optimistic about the future.”

Palestinian christians - The Catholic weekly

A week earlier Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, concluded a visit to the Holy Family Parish in Gaza City, saying it has “steadfast faith” amid horrific destruction and constant bombardment.

“Despite the everyday issues, I saw a community united, well-organised, concerned about the future,” the cardinal said.

“There was suffering and complaints, but there were no words of anger or resentment. This is something which should not be taken for granted. This is something positive. I really appreciated that.”

Their main concern at the moment is for their children and their education, he said, having already lost an academic school year.

“Inside the compound there are dozens of children. Everything is destroyed and it is very difficult to find one house (intact).”

Some people are managing to live in houses, but the buildings are in “very precarious conditions,” the cardinal said, with garbage everywhere and destroyed infrastructure.

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