HOLY LAND – VATICAN Patriarch Pizzaballa: words of “hope and truth” for the conflicts in the Holy Land

In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Latin primate reflected on the conflicts that wear out and hope. It is a mission to which all the Churches are called, leaving aside “rivalries and divisions”. Schools, hospitals, homes are “our way of working for justice.” At St. Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Francis warned against “indifferent and erroneous understanding” and “sacrilegious violence.”

Jerusalem () – The presence of Christians is not limited “only to the service of charity” towards the poor but, according to the modalities of the Church, offers “a judgment on the world”. This also happens and above all in the Holy Land, where “politics” interferes “in ordinary life” and “seriously questions all our Churches”, said the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, yesterday in his reflection on the occasion of the Week of prayer for Christian unity. “We are all involved in a conflict – he says – that wears out the lives of our faithful, and they expect from us a word of hope, of comfort, but also of truth. We cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. Taking a position must always be translated into words and actions in favor of those who suffer and cry.”

In a land torn by conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, where even the holy places are an element of tension, even among Christians themselves in the past, “our word must not be characterized by rancor, anger or resentment”. On the contrary, Patriarch Pizzaballa points out, “it must have the freedom and peace that Christ has given us” and “it can only have one perspective: forgiveness and reconciliation”. That is why the only position “is that of Christ, at the service of the life of all. The Church loves and serves society, and shares with the civil authorities the concern and work for the common good”, especially for the poor, leaving aside the “logic of competition and division”. This mission, he observed, does not belong to the Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant Church, but is one, to which “we are all called, as a Christian community of the Holy Land.”

The Latin patriarch related the blessedness of the afflicted (Matthew 5,4) with the passage from the book of Qohelet (4,1) dedicated to the oppressions and tears of the inconsolable victims, to talk about violence, injustice and the way to face evil. “These are issues that have an immediate political connotation” internationally and in the Holy Land. “Violence, oppression, pain and injustice – he observed – are found in the first place in our own souls, in the lives of many families, in our own communities and, more generally, in human relationships, as well as in our relationship with creation. . “Despite the numerous conflicts, the Churches here are very active in building the heavenly Jerusalem. Schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly, children, the disabled, and many other things, are a constitutive part of our identity as a community, oriented outward and not inward. They are our way – the patriarch concluded – of doing good here in the Holy Land, of working for justice, of opening our eyes to pain and oppression”.

This year the theme of the week of prayer for Christian unity – from January 18 to 25 – was “Learn to do good, seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). A highly topical exhortation that, with Russia’s war against Ukraine, also affects the Orthodox Churches. That is why prayer becomes a prayer for peace, invoked so many times these days by Pope Francis, who met last night with the All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Organizations on the solemnity of the conversion of Saint Paul, and presided over as all years the celebration of Second Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, in Rome.

In his reflection, the pontiff attacked “the erroneous and indifferent understanding” that exists when Christians “put our vision before that of the Father” and the “sacrilegious violence” of the wars “unleashed by those who profess to be Christians.” For this reason, he hopes for a “change of perspective” that leads us to look at the world with the eyes “of Jesus Christ”, because only in this way can we grow “in prayer, service, dialogue and work together towards that full unity that Christ desires At the end, Francis invoked for Christians the help of the apostle of the Gentiles and his “indomitable courage” in conversion.

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Written by Editor TLN

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