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Statement on Crisis in Holy Land and Arson in Los Altos Church


Message from Metropolitan PHILIP
On the Crisis in the Holy Land And
The Fire at Church of the Redeemer, Los Altos, California

April 18, 2002


Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy, Archdiocesan Trustees, Members of the Order of St. Ignatius,
and all faithful of our Archdiocese:

We greet you in the spirit of this Great Lent.  The news from Palestine is heart-breaking.  I am sure that you have seen on your TV screens the cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and other cities, towns and villages which seem as if they were hit by a devastating earthquake.  The extent of suffering and human misery is beyond description. 

The people of our Archdiocese have always responded courageously and generously to human tragedy, whether it was the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the earthquakes in California and Mexico, Hurricane Andrew in Florida and the barbaric attack on America, September 11, 2001.  I want to inform you that last December I was honored to present, on your behalf, a $200,000 check to the police and fire departments of the city of New York. 

I am sorry to tell you that one of our churches, the Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos, California, was consumed by fire.  After a federal investigation, it was determined that the cause of this fire was arson.  It has also come to our attention that historic Orthodox churches and mosques have not been spared destruction in Palestine.  As of this date, the Church of the Nativity, the second holiest shrine in Christianity, is still surrounded by tanks and soldiers. 

Beloved children, during these holy days of Lent, it is important to give up certain kinds of food; but it is even more important to give out from your money for the needy and the poor.  I am beseeching you, therefore, to take collections on Palm Sunday and Great Friday for Palestinian victims whose land has been occupied for the past thirty-five years.  Your collections will also help our Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos, California.  Please be generous and send whatever you collect immediately to the Archdiocese headquarters marked “Victims of Palestine and Church of the Redeemer.” 

While we relive the events of Holy Week, especially the suffering of our Lord on Holy Thursday and Great Friday, I pray that the Eternal Light of the empty tomb will shine in your hearts and in the hearts of people everywhere. 

Your Father in Christ,

Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America