HOLY LAND – on May 25-28, 2017, Jean-Christophe Peaucelle, Adviser for Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited the French religious houses and communities in the Holy Land.
Protecting religious communities is a privilege that Francis I obtained in 1536 and throughout the Ottoman Empire. Today it is a special and important role for the Consul General of France in Jerusalem and this explains the regular presence of Mr. Pierre Cochard, the current French Consul-General in Jerusalem at religious events, the latest was the traditional Palm Sunday procession. This is a role that may seem unexpected considering France’s inclination towards secularism.
At the national level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs relies on the services of a religious affairs expert who advises and informs the Minister and his staff on religious issues and their implications in France’s international relations. Jean-Christophe Peaucelle, a diplomat with expertise of the religious world, held this role since 2014.
In order to enhance his knowledge and to ensure that the French religious communities are properly integrated in the current political context amidst tensions, the high ranking official visited a number of them. He was accompanied by Father Luc Pareydt, a Jesuit and diplomat, Jesuit and diplomat, local contact for this special mission in the Holy Land. It was a working time but also of reunion for one who was Deputy Consul General from 1992 to 1996.
The Benedictine Abbey in Abu Gosh, Maison d’Abraham, and the Home of Our Lady of Sorrows were the first to be visited. Our Lady of Sorrows Home for the Elderly in the Ras AL Amud neighborhood welcomes seniors in need of essential care and support in their retirement years. The visit was an opportunity for the Home to present its large scale rehabilitation project to meet the requirements of the Israeli Ministry and maintain an underdeveloped activity that meets the needs of families who do not always have the possibility of keeping at home their elderly parents with disabilities or in extreme fragility.
It is a concern for Jean-Christophe Peaucelle to facilitate the sustainability of these communities and homes that provide services to pilgrims, the local populations or are a prayerful, invigorating presence in a religious but also too fragmented region. It is a political mission in the service of men, children of the same Father.