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News from the Latin Patriarchate

Your Eminence Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher,
Your Excellency Archbishop Antonio Franco, Nuncio and Apostolic Delegate,
Your Excellencies Auxiliary Bishops Selim Sayegh and Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo,
Very Reverend Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land,
Reverend Fathers and Religious Men and Women,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would first like to thank His Excellency Bishop Selim Sayegh who, in the name of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, has promised me fraternal prayer and communion. Also, many thanks to Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, who received me so well at the entrance to the Holy Sepulcher.

Today, after almost three years of waiting and preparation, I am receiving from our Holy Church the responsibility of guiding our beloved Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the “Mother of all Churches.”  At the same time, I am inheriting a number of challenges to be met and many problems, both internal and external, that have accumulated over time.  I am very confident because I know that I am not alone, for I am relying on the grace of God that “to me has not been ineffective” (1 Cor 15:10) and on “the power of Christ that dwells with me” (2 Cor 12:9). 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We passed by Golgotha and the stone of the Unction before arriving at the place of the Resurrection.

Before our time, the Lord experienced the harshest of human dramas and underwent the bitterest of sufferings: deprivation, injustice, loneliness and agony.  He walked through the narrow streets of Jerusalem carrying his cross, falling several times, always picking himself up, and this, until death.  He allowed himself to be buried in the ground and trampled under foot, as the grain of wheat which is sown and which dies.

We also, as a people, as a Church and as individuals, know which crosses, which challenges, and which difficulties await us.  We know beforehand that we will fall at times and that we will receive some hard blows.

Your death, Lord, continues to take place in us and in every person who suffers, who is persecuted, who lives in fear, or who wanders from place to place.

Our people in the Holy Land, like all of the peoples in the Middle East, are constantly groaning and suffering as they await the hour of their liberation, the hour of their resurrection, for the way of the cross continues on and on. 

Nevertheless, just as there is a short distance separating Golgotha from the empty Tomb, so also we know that the distance separating death from Resurrection is also short.  For that reason, there is no reason to fear.

Also, my confidence is nurtured by all the spiritual, human and ecclesial richness of this diocese, the most outstanding being:

- The presence of many religious orders and congregations who support us by their prayers, enrich us with their respective charisms, and give us the gift of their fraternal love, their friendship, their services and their talents, beginning with the Order of Saint Francis of Assisi, guardian of the Holy Land since the 14th century;

- The presence of numerous friends, regardless of where they come from – and sometimes from very far – who hold the Holy Land and the Latin Patriarchate close to their heart;

- The presence of numerous people who love this Church of God, from all religions and denominations;

- The presence at my side of my priest confreres of the Latin Patriarchate who are full of apostolic zeal, fraternal love, and pastoral solicitude, and this since the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate in 1847.

“O Lord, your grace is enough for me.”  “In your name, I am casting the net.”

From this place, by the grace of Christ who rose here from the dead:

- We call upon the Leaders of the Nations in conflict, all of whom are dear to us: “Fear the Lord and have pity on your peoples, on their young people, on their children and on their elders.  Have the courage to find just solutions so that we can all live in peace and security.”

We call upon the International Community so that, moved by a sense of responsibility, courage, and justice, it will help the populations of the region to take just decisions.  We are certain that Peace is possible, that Justice is possible, and that mutual Trust is possible.

We call upon the faithful of the three monotheistic religions and of the various Christian denominations in this holy city to continue to deepen our dialogue, to strengthen our solidarity in charity, and to continue the meetings we have been having in this spirit.

“He has been raised from the dead just as he said” (Mt 28:5).

The final word of our history will not be left to hatred, to separations and to violence.  Today’s joy rekindles in us the great hope of Easter morning: Christ rose from the dead and triumphed!  Love is stronger than all else!

Risen with Christ, we begin our journey. 
With Christ, we will work toward a world based on justice, peace and security.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who accompanied her son on the road to suffering and death and who collaborated in his plan of salvation, accompany us in our mission.  Amen.

+ Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Holy Sepulcher, June 22, 2008


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