[Wednesday December 25, 2013] During Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, at the Church of Nativity, in Bethlehem, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal prayed for peace and prosperity in Palestine, as well as for an end to the hardships faced by the Palestinian people.WAFA reports that Twal said to President Mahmoud Abbas, who attended the Mass: “We pray for you and for your mission in finding a just and equitable solution to the present conflict, for Palestinian unity, for the peace and prosperity of your country. We ask God to grant you wisdom and courage.”

“The world is living through a long night of wars, destruction, fear, hate, racism and, at the present time, cold and snow,” he said.

“From this Holy Place, we remember all the adversities in our world: from civil wars in Africa to the typhoon in the Philippines, the difficult situation in Egypt and in Iraq, the tragedy playing out in Syria and not to forget our own problems here: the prisoners and their families who hope for their release, the poor who have lost their land and their homes demolished, families waiting to be reunited, those out of work and all who suffer from the economic crisis.”

However, “we must never give in to despair,” he said; “We are invited to be optimistic and to renew our faith that this Land, home of the three monotheistic religions, will one day become a haven of peace for all people.”

“In the Holy Land, we are living a conflict that does not seem to have a solution in the short term and which weighs heavily on the inhabitants of the Holy Land.”

“This painful reality raises numerous questions concerning our future in this country and causes us much worry. We need the answer of faith. The answer lies neither in emigration nor in closing in on ourselves. It consists in staying here and in living and dying here. Our Land is holy and deserves our attachment to it, for our presence in this land is a divine vocation, a blessing and a privilege”, Twal went on to say.

The mass was attended by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and a long list officials and figures, both foreign and local, among hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world.