VATICAN CITY - September 30TH , 2023, in St. Peter’s Square, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa as a Cardinal for the Holy Roman Church, in addition to 20 New Cardinals during a Public Ordinary Consistory, which witnessed the attendance of thousands of faithful from various nations.
People from different nationalities, united under one faith rejoiced as H.H presided over the appointment, handing out the Scarlet biretta and placing a ring on the hand of each new cardinal while saying: “Receive this ring from the hand of Peter and know that, with the love of the Prince of the Apostles, your love for the Church is strengthened.”
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on unity and diversity in the Church, highlighting the importance of synodality under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the “master of walking together.”Hence, he chose the Story of the Pentecost as the Bible reading and drew attention to the similiarity between all those Jews from different nationalities and languages who gathered while the Apostles preached (Acts 2, 1-11), and the New Cardinals who are “from all parts of the world, from the most diverse nations”. He therefore pointed out that before being “apostles”, before being priests, Bishops, Cardinals, pastors should remember that they are “Parthians, Medes, Elamites etc”. Addressing the new College of Cardinals, he called unto them to work for “an ever more symphonic and synodal Church” confiding in the Holy Spirit who “creates variety and unity and “is harmony itself”, he used the image of the orchestra to clarify this new mission which embodies simultaneous diversity and unity, stressing that: “Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable”.
The entire Diocese of Jerusalem rejoiced at the moment when His Holiness handed over the Papal Bull, to H.B Pierbattista Pizzaballa, which is a formal decree announcing his creation as a Cardinal, hoping that his creation will raise the voice of Jerusalem within the Church and in the World. Many expressed their gratitude for the Holy See's interest in the Holy Land and the Middle East as a whole, and in particular the city of Jerusalem, which is the heart of the church. Mr. Bader Rabie, a resident of Jerusalem who came to Rome to participate, said: "It was from this Holy Land that the good news spread to the World, It is the source of the Christian faith, hence, the Christians of this country are the descendants of the first Christians who through the generations took upon themselves the responsibility of spreading the faith to all countries until the Christian faith became universal. But today the Christians of the Holy Land face many challenges that hinder the continuity of their presence in this region, due to being a minority, but the creation of His Beatitude as a cardinal shows the Catholic Church's loving support for us, and a beam of hope for new collaborations between us and the world.”
"The Holy City meets the Eternal City in the person of His Beatitude Cardinal Pierbattista," said Demetrio Maltese, an Italian volunteer at Casa Kerigma (run by the Italian NGO Attendiamoci and the fidei donum priest fr. Valerio Chiovaro) who also attended the celebrations in Rome with a group of 15 young people from Attendiamoci led by fr Chiovaro. "We came here from all around Italy to express our support to His Beatitude as he begins his new mission as a Cardinal, a mission that calls him to keep protecting the continuity of the Faith embodied in the Church of Jerusalem, usque ad sanguis effusionem, as resembled by the Scarled Red Color".
Mr. Anton Asfar, Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem, expressed his pride at the creation of His Beatitude, saying, "this appointment came as an answer to the longing of the Christians of the Holy Land to embraced by the Universal Church". He stressed that Caritas has taken the words of H.B to express their work in Gaza City, which is "We put love into action".
The Consistory was followed by a Courtesy Visit, where His Beatitude Cardinal welcomed all who came to congratulate him at the Apostolic Palace, from the bishops and priests of the Patriarchate, various bishops and heads of the Churches, in addition to the delegations of Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, and the United States of America, his parishioners from Bergamo, the staff of the Latin Patriarchate, the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre. It is noted that, His Beatitude received an honorary title linked to the Church of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in Rome, the Church of St. Onuphrius, the hermit.
Following his creation, H.B expressed: "The mission of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and my mission as it’s Patriarch remains the same. Granting me this new rank does not change the mission but increases its importance and signficance. I am pleased to be a voice for the Christians of this land in the world. I will continue, at the same time, to root the work of His Holiness in promoting Ecumenical dialogue in the Holy Land. I remain a pastor for the Christian community here, to help guide them throughout the various upheavels they may be faced with on a social and political level, by living out the Good news of the Gospel, which is the only Truth that will bring about peace.”
His Beatitude Cardinal Pierpatista Pizzaballa presided over his first Pontifical Mass on Sunday, October 1, 2023 at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, with the participation of several Bishops and Priests, in the presence of a large crowd of believers. His Beatitude expressed his gratitude for the support, love and trust he has received recently, thanking all those who shared this joy of his elevation with him, which is a gift to the Diocese of Jerusalem.
In his homily, His Beatitude reflected on the humble characteristic and " gaze " of Saint Peter, which is "an expert gaze" he harnessed by " first gazing on Christ". He called on the Diocese of Jerusalem to walk out its difficulties by putting to life the mature gaze of Peter, to live the love that Christ called for, saying: "Christian identity is not a bulwark to be defended, but a hospitable home and an open door to the mystery of God and man where all are welcome. We, with Christ, are for all. This, brothers and sisters, is how I would like to live and "do" as a Cardinal. This is how I would like the Latin Patriarchate, which has surprisingly become a cardinal's see, to live out its vocation and mission. This is how I would like all of you to choose every day to be Christians, disciples of Christ, sustained by my prayer just as I know I am sustained by yours".
Now, the diocese prepares to host the welcoming celebrations upon H.B Cardinal's return from Rome, begining with the Solemn entry at Jaffa Gate, and presiding over a Pontifical Mass at the Basillica of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jordan and Cyprus.