Fr. Peter J. Daly
April 17, 2002
In 1997 I
took a tour group from our parish to the
Like our parish tour, hundreds of
Catholic groups from around the world visit the
Maybe it is time for Christians to stop supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians with our dollars and our euros until both sides are willing to bring an end to the blood letting.
Maybe it is
time for us to stop allowing the Israeli government to advertise in Catholic
publications and solicit our tour business, while at the same time pursuing
policies that are virtually eliminating the Palestinian Christian population in
It is also
time for us to use our economic clout to stand in solidarity with fellow
Christians who are besieged in this terrible war, especially in the little town
The fact that one of the most
sacred sites in all of Christendom, the church of the Nativity, the birthplace
of Jesus, is under siege is an outrage.
Both sides are holding hostage a place of incalculable religious and
cultural importance. The church is a symbolic pawn. It may be destroyed. If it is destroyed, it will be a cultural
atrocity on the magnitude of the destruction of the great Buddhas
Even more important than the church, are the innocent lives of its neighbors. Many of them are Palestinian Christians. Their lives are put at risk in this siege. They cannot get food. Some have no water or power.
Secretary Powell’s mission to
Maybe it is time for the Church to do what it can. It is also time for us to take care of our own.
First, we should support the besieged Palestinian Christians with financial and humanitarian assistance. We need to make it possible for Palestinian Christians to remain in their homes and businesses until this violence subsides.
Second we should use what clout the Catholic Church has with the tourism industry. Maybe we could announce a shut down all the tourist sites under control of the Church until both sides cease their violence.
Imagine if tourist groups could not
visit the Mount of the Beatitudes and
It is true that tourism has already come to a virtual halt because of the war. Perhaps we should just shut it down as a symbolic protest.
We would be saying that we Christian tourists are not coming back with our money until you, Israelis and Palestinians, come back to the negotiating table. We will not spend our dollars and our euros to support your violence on either side.
Undoubtedly some innocent will suffer from a boycott. That is always the case. Some innocent suffered from the South African boycott in the 1980s, but it was still the right thing to do.
But we cannot carry on as
usual. We cannot be pilgrims anywhere in
We cannot do much. But we must do something.