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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,
Dear Friends,

“My heart is steadfast” (Ps 57 (56), 8).

We are here this morning in front of the Tomb which the two disciples visited before us on the morning of the Resurrection.  We find that the cathedral of the Holy Sepulcher is full of pilgrims, incense and prayer, but we find the Tomb empty, empty of the body of the resurrected Christ who triumphed over death, injustice, and evil.  As the angel said to the women, “He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.  (…) Go and tell his disciples: He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee” (Mt 28:5-7). 

With him and by his grace, we too will rise.
With him and by his grace, we keep going: every day in the life of this Church is a new beginning.  We do not allow ourselves to be stopped by weakness, by marginalization, or by the breakdowns we experience, nor do we content ourselves with the level of maturity, charity, mutual respect and ecclesial community which our Churches have already acquired, for the glory of God.

It is in this ongoing renewal that we find our strength.
And we are strong.  Our strength comes directly from Him, just as he promised us: “You will receive a power from above” (Acts 1:8).

Our strength comes from his presence among us in the Eucharist.
Our strength comes from his life-giving Cross and from his Resurrection.
Our strength comes from his promise:

- “Do not be afraid. I am with you always.  I am the one who sent you” (Mt 28:20).
- “Do not be afraid, I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14: 18).
- “Do not be afraid, take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, we run the risk of being crucified with and for Christ.  But with Him and in Him, we are the radiant image of the Church of tomorrow.  Christ is the head of our diocese of Jerusalem.  Today, the hearts of all the Christians of the world are turned toward the empty tomb out of which came our salvation. We are the children of this land, we are the children of the way of the cross and of Golgotha, but, at the same time, we are children of light, joy and resurrection.  We will be the voice that announces the happiness and the peace to come; the voice that denounces and combats injustice, hatred and intrigue; and the voice that utters the cry of liberation, echoing that of the apostles on Easter morning: “The Lord is truly risen, and he has appeared to Simon” (Lk 24:34).

Lord, you know everything.  You know that I love you despite my poverty (Jn 21:17).

We are poor and we need your love, your mercy, and your patience.

We are poor and we acknowledge this fact.  Also, we need all the help, counsel, and prayer we can get, and we recognize the need to have others share in the responsibilities entrusted to us.  Lord, give us the wisdom you gave King Solomon so that no important decision will be taken before having listened to our confreres and in view of the common good.  Lord, you are our support, and in you we are rich.

- We are rich thanks to the presence of our confreres the auxiliary bishops, of the members of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East, and of the religious leaders of all the other Christian denominations.

- We will be rich if we put on the humility and gentleness of the divine Child in the Crib, if we avoid trying to be popular in order to flatter ourselves, and if we avoid the pride of the scribes and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

- We will be rich if we imitate the silence of Jesus in the Crib, his generosity of spirit as he faced those who accused and insulted him, and his all-important forgiveness on the cross.

Lord, by the intercession of your Mother, Patroness of Palestine, give us the grace:

- To love as you love, without limits;

- To forgive as you forgive;

- To serve and to give as you serve and give, and, in this way, to tear down by our generosity all the social, political and denominational barriers and become, by your grace and with your wisdom, instruments of change for the better.

Grant that we may not forget to live throughout our lives what you recommended: “Love one another” (Jn 15:9) and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, in this city of Peace, we pray that “the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

+ Fouad Twal Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Holy Sepulcher, Monday, June 23, 2008


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