JERUSALEM – Wednesday, September 21, 2016, Archbishop Pizzaballa, appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate by Pope Francis on June 24, held a press conference before his solemn entry at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem and celebrate Vespers in the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate.

At the early afternoon press conference in the Mamilla neighborhood of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pizzaballa spoke about the main challenges of his mandate.  First, “to reorganize the administration of the Patriarchate, while continuing to help the Church in her spiritual life and pastoral activities”.

From a pastoral perspective, the new Apostolic Administrator promised to work for “unity between the Churches,” stressing “we cannot afford to give lessons on dialogue to the world, if between us reigns only divisions and mistrust! ”

“I would also like to encourage families, God’s people, communities, taking into account the very different needs of each region of the Diocese: Jordan, Palestine …”. The new Archbishop shared his concerns: “the young people, migrants, foreign workers, those who are far from the Church”  and also “problems related to the political situation, including the reunification of families” and ” balance upsets in the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, and the thousands of refugees in Jordan. ”

Archbishop  Pizzaballa also assured of wanting to “promote meetings” and work towards dialogue, “a very difficult mission here in the Holy Land where religions are constantly a source of conflict.” “I would like to at least, he said, take action following Pope Francis, because these actions contribute to creating a mindset.”

He further explained to the journalists present at the conference, the specific mission of “apostolic administrator”. “it is, he said, a temporary solution, to better prepare the way for the new Patriarch who will come later, and who will be appointed when the situation is ripe. ”

 

A cheering crowd at Jaffa Gate

After the press conference, the Archbishop was greeted at Jaffa Gate by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem and a huge crowd of local faithful, religious, priests, seminarians, marching scouts and pilgrims. Among the religious authorities present were, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III;  the Armenian Patriarch Manougian; Bishop Anba Antonius of the Coptic Patriarchate;  Bishop Daniel Aba of the Ethiopian Patriarchate;  Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; Archbishop Moussa El Hage of the Maronitie Exarchate; Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey of the Melkite Patriarchate; the Custos  of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, ofm,  and His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.  Also present were the General Consuls of different European countries and the world.

During Vespers celebrated in the Co-Cathedral of the Patriarchate in Latin, Arabic and Italian, Bishop William Shomali, Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, welcomed the new Apostolic Administrator (full text):  “The Holy Father entrusted to your care an extended Diocese covering Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. It is a grand mission.  There is an immense expectation, and the clergy, the religious communities and the faithful, are eager and happy to collaborate with you in the fulfillment of your pastoral ministry.” Bishop Shomali also acknowledged ” the rich experience, great dynamism and the willingness to serve ” of the Archbishop, recalling his” long and fruitful term as Custos of the Holy Land. ”

In addressing the assembly, Archbishop Pizzaballa, launched a call for unity (full text): “After the joy of the transfiguration, there is the descent from the mountain, in ordinary and everyday life, with its share of joys certainly, but also its problems, sufferings and divisions (…). It is precisely in this difficult context and one that does not allow us to create illusions.  We are called to be Church, that is, to give our witness of unity. Here, in this torn and divided environment, the first announcement to be made is unity, which begins with us, within our house.

The Apostolic Administrator concluded with the same words he had spoken in Bergamo ten days earlier: ” I want to be bishop of all and for all. And I count on the full cooperation of all.”

Myriam Ambroselli

Photos: ©LPJ/ ©Mounir F. Hodaly

Solemn Entry of Archbishop Pizzaballa into Jerusalem:

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Vespers at the Co-cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem:

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Reception at the Latin Patriarchate:

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