The Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, who will receive the purple at the consistory on September 30, today visited the Palestinian city at the heart of violence. A situation of “apparent normality”, people “hurt, but not resigned, there is no difference between Christians and the rest”. A sign of the Pope’s concern for a Church that is a “little light” in a “blessed and martyred” land.
Milan () – “In Jenin I found a situation of apparent normality, but they are still very shocked by what has happened.” They are scarred by the violence of the past week and the massive military operation by the Israeli army, but at the same time, “I also found them very resilient.” This told to the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is among the new cardinals that Pope Francis named yesterday at the end of the Angelus on the occasion of the consistory scheduled for September 30, on the eve of the Synod.
An appointment that confirms the attention with which the pontiff is following the events in the Holy Land and the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, linked to the visit to Jenin that the new cardinal made today, from which he “had just returned” when we contacted him by phone.
“Already during the Second Intifada,” his beatitude recalled, the city was the center of violence, perhaps because “it is the symbol of Palestinian resistance and it is a somewhat isolated area, and perhaps also for this reason” it suffered these tensions. A few hours ago, the new cardinal met “with the local Christian community, with the local authorities, both civil and Islamic religious, and I have been in the refugee camp, in the hospital,” he continued, observing first-hand “the different realities of the place”. “I found people shocked, hurt by what happened, incredulous, angry but also resilient,” he stressed, “I didn’t find them particularly resigned.” And, in this sense, “there are no differences between Christians and the rest.”
For the patriarch, his appointment is a “sign of attention” from the Pope “towards the Church of the Holy Land and Jerusalem”, towards his mission of dialogue, encounter, universality, his history and his current and past wounds. “A little light,” he said to , “in this blessed and martyred land”. A color, cardinal red, which is both that of the blood spilled in this area of the world torn by conflicts, and that of the passion that must be put into service”. Last week, the Patriarch had intervened with a note in which he condemned the violence in Jenin, which had also affected the local parish, and called for a ceasefire and the “search for peace and dialogue to avoid future unjustified attacks against the population.”
The newly appointed Cardinal Pizzaballa is the first Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to receive the purple, with the exception of a distant predecessor in the second decade of the 20th century, but who did not officially reside in the Holy City after the consistory. Filippo Camassei, a cardinal of Roman origin (in 1848, the year of his birth, was still the Papal State), became Patriarch on December 6, 1906, but was exiled to Nazareth by the Turks in 1917, where he was welcomed by the Franciscans. He returned to Jerusalem in November 1918, returning to Rome the following year, where he was raised to the rank of cardinal on December 15, 1919. Only 13 months later, while still in his hometown, he died suddenly at the age of 73. never having returned as a cardinal to Jerusalem.
For this reason, the current Latin primate can be considered the first patriarch called to receive the mortarboard, in what is known as the “mother” Church for Christians around the world, a holy land but at the same time torn by divisions, violence, bloodshed and confessional hatred. At the same time, a sign of the attention with which the Pope follows the events of the last period – also yesterday, at the end of the Angelus and before the announcement of the conclave, he had made a call for dialogue between the parties – of the participation of Jerusalem in the government of the world Church. In addition, it is an appointment that comes at a difficult time for the Christians of the Holy Land themselves, who increasingly suffer more attacks, abuses, hatred and insults by the Jewish settlers and the most extremist fringes of the right and Orthodoxy. israelis.
Tenth Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since 2020, Franciscan Pierbattista Pizzaballa was born in Cologno al Serio, in the province of Bergamo, on April 21, 1965, a town he left at a very young age to complete his studies in Bologna. There he was ordained a deacon on January 27, 1990 and a priest on September 15 of the same year. He has been working in the Holy Land since 1999; in May 2004 he was elected Trustee, and on March 22, 2010 he was confirmed for a second term. In 2013 he was nominated for another three-year term and his term ended in April 2016. On June 24, he was appointed apostolic administrator because the beatitude of he Twal, patriarch at the time, had reached the age limit. The new cardinal takes charge of a reality that, for almost 40 years, was entrusted to personalities of the Arab Church: the Palestinian Michel Sabbah and the Jordanian Fouad Twal. His jurisdiction covers Latin rite Catholics living in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus, his seat is Jerusalem and his territory is divided into 71 parishes, grouped into six vicariates.
* Photo by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem