Easter Message 2011 from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem (April 14, 2011)

Alleluia! Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!

We, the Heads of Churches of the Holy City of Jerusalem bring you our greetings and our joy in the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Christians find their joy is secure in the hope of the promise of eternal life which our Lord has won for all who believe. However, when we in Jerusalem, the city of redemption, see the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere in our region our joy becomes more solemn. We find sadness competes with the joy of Easter as we witness the violence which has erupted in the face of peaceful demonstrations by people throughout the Arab world these past months.

We Christians are watching in prayer the developments in the Middle East. We also pray that the reforms would lead to modern civil society where freedom of expression, freedom of religion, human rights — including the rights of those who are considered being a minority in numbers — are respected. We call upon all people of faith and good will to pursue peace while at the same time we recognize that peace cannot be bought at the price of silence and submission to corruption and injustice.

The violence, when it erupts, reminds us that the cross of Christ is ever present for the faithful followers of the Prince of Peace. The crucifixion is an ongoing reality for many of our clergy and people who continue to seek to live with mutual understanding and co-operation with their neighbors.

We urge all Christians to pray for reconciliation among people in the Holy Land, where the deteriorating situation makes peace and justice seem further away than ever before. We ask the Churches around the world to stand with us in giving voice to those who are silenced, in breaking down walls that separate us from one another and in building bridges of goodwill between people.

We pray for the leaders of the nations, and for those who demonstrate for change, to use wisdom and their best judgment to serve the needs of their people and to promote peaceful solutions to change for a better future for all of God’s children. Our Lord died for the sins of the whole world that all people will see in his example how violence only leads to death and destruction. In his resurrection we experience his victory over violence and death and we embrace a vision of the future in which all people live together in harmony.

This vision gives us hope to renew our faith in the face of despair. Christians all over the world celebrate the victory over death which is ours as a gift from God who has compassion and mercy for all of his creation. We share our joy in the resurrection with you. The cross is ever before us day by day and the cross is empty. New life has come. Christ is risen. We are risen. Alleluia. Thanks be to God.

+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch
+Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch
+Patriarch Torkom II Manoogian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarch
+Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Jerusalem
+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch
+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarch
+Archbishop Abouna Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch
+Archbishop Paul Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarch
+Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
+Fr. Rafael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch