2010-07-08 13:58:45

Vatican Radio Helps Start First Christian Radio in Holy Land

(08 Jul 10 – RV) “A Christian voice for the Christians of the Holy Land”, but at the same time, “a bridge between the different churches and religions that live there”. You could be mistaken in thinking these are quotes from one of Pope Benedict XVI’s many addresses on the life of Christian community in the Middle East, particularly in the run up to next Octobers Synod of Bishops for the Churches of the Middle East. But in fact, these are the words of the parish priest of the last entirely Christian village in Palestine, Fr. Raed Abusahlia of Taybeh...

Fr. Raed, is a former spokesman for the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. He’s a big event organizer, fund raiser and the proud sponsor of the town’s impressive olive press and farmer’s cooperative that sells olive oil, soaps and candles to European supermarket chains.

His newest project: starting up the first Christian radio station in the Holy Land. – with Vatican Radio’s help. Fr. Raed hopes to launch the first broadcasts of his new radio station this upcoming Christmas eve

He told us more about it on a recent visit here to Vatican Radio: “We need a Christian voice in the Holy Land. We need to give a Christian voice to the Christians in the Holy Land. Especially to cover the whole diocese which extends over Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Even though there are different television and radio stations in the region, we don’t have any a single Christian radio station”.

But why Taybeh? Fr Raed reminds that “Taybeh is the last entirely Christian village, and it is located on a mountain top one thousand metres above sea level. “So we can cover the whole region”.

Fr Raed had to seek documentation and permission for the radio station from the Palestinian Authorities, given that the village of Taybeh falls under the jurisdiction of the Occupied Territories zone B. The target audience for the station will be the Arabic speaking community from Amman to Gaza, Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“This will be a Christian voice but a different voice”, reveals Fr Raed, “a voice of peace, of hope, of dialogue and reconciliation. We will be open to everybody, to the other Churches of the Holy Land. We will give space and time for all the news and celebrations of the other churches. We have already contacted them to have their own programs on our radio station. It will also be open to the other religions, Jews and Muslims. We will try to be bridge, because a Christian who is not a bridge is not a Christian”.

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