Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, visited Gaza today, during his trip to the region.
The Cardinal lead over 100 pilgrims from the Diocese of Westminister to Gaza to celebrate a Mass for the strips Catholic community, before going to visit the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
In an interview with MEMO today, Cardinal Nichols said "Everyone should rediscover the humanity of the situation, beyond the politics, beyond the oppression of war. We have to get a fresh focus, that it is a human community here in Gaza, and we have to look at ways that the community can prosper – because poverty is always a cause of frustration, and frustration is always a cause of dispute".
The Cardinal agrees with the fears of others that the actions of an extreme few, on both sides, might set the agenda in the Holy Land, and thus strong leadership is required on both sides to lead to peace. He strongly believes that both sides must abide by international law, and referred to the Israeli settlement programme as being contrary to international law.
Gaza is home to almost 2000 Palestinian Christians. Christians in Palestine are permitted to obtain any job, in addition to having their full rights and duties as their Muslim counterparts in accordance with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. Moreover, seats have been allocated to Christian citizens in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in accordance with a quota system that allocates based on a significant Christian presence.
Churches in Gaza are renowned for the relief and educational services that they offer, and Muslim citizens participate in these services. Palestinian citizens as a whole benefit from these services.
Images by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad