Thursday, November 15, 2012

Press Release: Fr. Sean McManus returns from Holy Land Visit

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Press Release: Fr. Sean McManus returns from Holy Land Visit

PO BOX 15128
WASHINGTON, DC 20003-0849
Fr. Mc Manus Back from West Bank Sickness Stopped Gaza Visit

CAPITOL HILL. Tuesday, November 7, 2012 --- The President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, Fr. Sean Mc Manus, has  returned from his previously  unannounced  two-week visit to the West Bank. Illness forced him to cancel a further week visit to the Gaza Strip.
He had been invited to join the INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS (IFPB) Delegation (Olive Harvest) to Israel-Palestine, Oct. 21 - Nov. 12, 2012.

The Washington INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS describes the purpose of their delegations in this way: “Delegations to Israel/Palestine are designed to begin a process of experiential learning and personal transformation. Our delegations expose participants to perspectives that are not readily available in North America. Meetings are held with diverse representatives of Palestinian and Israeli society, focusing particularly on the voices of those working nonviolently for a resolution to the conflict…”

Fr. Mc Manus said: “I was honored, humbled and inspired to be included in this Delegation, composed of 32 remarkable men and women, young and old, and led by extraordinary leaders, male and female. The IFPB is a really special organization that does courageous and heroic work.”

Simultaneously, there was a large African Heritage Delegation with whom we shared the same hotel. Needless to say, these African-Americans brought to the issue that extra-special perspective, gained from their own Black Freedom Struggle.

This was my first visit to The Holy Land, and it was a listening–learning visit for me. Although I knew the basics of the problem, I did not have the hands-on-knowledge like I have of the Northern Ireland problem. I was particularly interested to see, among other things, if any of my own work, like the Mac Bride Principles, could apply to the situation there. It should be noted here that none were more supportive of the Mac Bride Principles than Jewish-American Members of Congress. (I fully document this in my Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland. Washington. 2012.)”

Fr. Mc Manus explained: “ I went with an open, objective mind – though somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, I have a deep reverence for the Jewish people, worldwide. I have also become, through my study, very conscious and ashamed of the past history of Catholic anti-Semitism: how the Catholic Church, even some of its famous Saints and preachers, spread ant-Semitism across the globe. After The Reformation, the Protestant Churches were equally anti-Semitic. Inevitably, such racist and religious demonization helped to pave the way to The Holocaust.

While we must repent for that past Christian anti-Semitism, it must not close our eyes or hardened our hearts to the rights and plights of the Palestinians. I was profoundly shocked by what I saw: systematic, relentless and shameless injustice. Of course, some of it was familiar. After all, the British partitioned both Palestine and Ireland. For the first few days, I kept thinking: “Just like what the Brits did in The North.” But increasingly, I would add, “but a million times worse.”
Fr. Mc Manus (now recovering from his debilitating, but non-serious travel-sickness) explained: “On my trip – my pilgrimage, if you will, -- to the Holy Land, I had been reflecting a lot on what the Hebrew Prophets teach us about justice. For them, religion is rooted in justice that flows from the heart of God. And it is that justice that must bind and bond Jews, Muslims, Protestants and Catholics, and all God’s children. As I return from the Holy Land, I echo one of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s favorite quotes from the Prophet Amos: ‘Let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” (New Jerusalem Bible, 5:24).

Fr. Mc Manus continued: “There is now no way I can in conscience and decency ignore the just, nonviolent cause of the Palestinians. I will most certainly do all I can to help --- without neglecting the Irish cause. Watch this space, as they say.
God bless America and God save Ireland and The Holy Land.”

Fr. Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. BOX 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC 20003-0849
Tel. 202-544-0568
Fax. 202-488-7537