JERUSALEM – On the morning of Thursday, January 9, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to present his Christmas greetings. Accompanied by several bishops, he was received by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa was warmly welcomed by Patriarch Theophilus III on Thursday January 9, on the occasion of the traditional Christmas greetings to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
After taking turns to greet the representatives of the various Churches, mostly Eastern, who came for the occasion, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate chose to open his speech with a passage from the famous Christmas Homily of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople and one of the Fathers of the Church.
Archbishop Pizzaballa then recalled the many challenges that marked the past year, recalling, among other things, “our right to be here as full and equal citizens”. He also spoke of the need to preserve the Christian character of the city “as one of the building blocks of its universal configuration”. The possibility of a public prayer in the city, benevolence towards Christian institutions (schools, hospitals, etc.), the preservation of the natural bonds between the Christians of Jerusalem and their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and the safeguarding of the status quo have been cited in turn as elements of this Christian character, which must remain visible and public.
In reply, Theophilus III emphasized the significance of this visit of the Latin Church. “Much more than a trivial courtesy event,” he said, this visit allows us to “show the world that we are at the service of the Christian fellowship, and at the same time we put ourselves at the service of the life of the Christian communities of the Holy Land”.
The Patriarch recalled the successes obtained thanks to the collaboration between the various local Churches, citing as an example the maintenance and restructuring of the holy places, in particular, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In this regard, he underlined the importance of continuing to keep these places alive, recalling the danger that they may turn into purely tourist places: “It is thanks to our presence here and our work that communities choose to stay, thus allowing them sacred places to live and not become simple relics of the past for tourists .”
The representatives of various Churches in the Holy Land (Coptic, Anglican) then took the floor to express their wishes to Patriarch Theophilus III and the Greek Orthodox community.