Solemn Entrance of H. E. Mgr. Adolfo Tito Yllana to the Holy Sepulcher
Jerusalem, September 30, 2021
“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb” (John 20,6).
Most Reverend Excellency,
Welcome to Jerusalem and welcome here, to the Holy Sepulcher, the heart of the Mother Church of Jerusalem, whose main mission is precisely to preserve the memory of Christ's death and resurrection, not only through the Sacraments that the Church continually celebrates with her community, but also through attachment to this physical Place, the empty tomb, the tangible sign of the historicity of our faith.
In the main moments of our ecclesial life, like this one, our Church gathers around this Place, to remind us that every beginning, every choice, every ecclesial orientation must start from here, from bowing our head and bending down in this small building, to remind us that the life of the Church springs from here. It is on this place that we must build our projects for the future, that is, from the paschal memory, the foundation of our hope and of the life of the world.
Together with me, all the bishops of the Catholic Church of the Holy Land are present: Melkites, Maronites, Syriac Catholics, Chaldeans, Armenian Catholics, Latins. All of us are an expression of the multiform tradition of the Church of the Holy Land. You will have the opportunity to experience that we are a church in which challenges are certainly not lacking, but in which you will also be able to see its vitality and beauty, through the presence of many initiatives and activities. You will be able to see them in the attention to the scholastic and academic world, to health care, in the service to young people, in the many parishes scattered throughout the territory, in a rich religious presence, and in the varied pastoral and social activities that the church safeguards, accompanying its community on its journey.
Ours is also a Church that speaks many languages and that has many colors and that for some of us even goes beyond the borders of different countries. Arabic is the main language, it is the language of the beating heart of the Church of the Holy Land, of the Arab and above all Palestinian community, which is the memory and the root that sustains the spiritual and material building of the Church; people who do not yet see the end of their desire for peace and serenity in their land, but who are jealous of their own traditions, proud guardians of the Christian memory of the Holy Land.
Together with them are Hebrew-speaking Catholics, foreign workers, migrants. Ours is a church of pilgrims who, even if they cannot be present now due to the pandemic, remain an integral part of our ecclesial life.
The multiformity of the ecclesial life of the Holy Land is also manifested in the presence of all the Christian Churches which, like us, have their roots here, and with which we have a vital, fruitful, and precious relationship. The presence of the Christian authorities here bears witness to this. You will be able to become aware of the bond that exists between us, when you will meet the parish communities in your visits.
We are a Church that lives and works in a largely Islamic or Jewish society. Interreligious dialogue is constitutive of our identity. Dialogue, which is not always easy, which starts from real life and never just academic, but for this very reason is essential.
We are a Church that notoriously lives in a wounded and divisive political and social context. The Israeli-Palestinian political conflict absorbs a large part of our energies and finds expression not only in the repeated military tensions, but in the continuous effort to build a normal life, which here is always exhausting and tiring: traveling, working, meeting, celebrating are operations that are never taken for granted and never immediate.
You will soon encounter the consequences of all this: resentment, prejudices, misunderstandings, suspicions, fears, fatigue often surface in our speeches and find space in many hearts. But you will also find a lot of determination, commitment, hope despite everything, in the many organizations and people who do not resign themselves to that sad reality, but want to live together and in peace.
All this reminds our Church that bending down here in this Place to safeguard the memory of Christ's death and resurrection must then lead us to bend to the needs of this land and its peoples. And just as the women of the Gospel came here to pour balm and oil on the wounds of the pierced body of Jesus, so too are we called to pour the balm of hope and the oil of mercy into the life of our communities. We ourselves must be balm and oil, be the perfume of resurrection and of life.
Most Reverend Excellency,
You bring us the presence of the successor of Peter here in the Holy Land, Pope Francis. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia. The Catholic Church of the Holy Land, the Mother Church of Jerusalem, however rich in initiatives and vibrant in life, is not complete without the presence of Peter, whom you make present among us. I assure you, in the name of all present here, of our full collaboration and above all, from this place, our intercessory prayer for you, for the service you are about to undertake and above all for the Holy Father and for the whole Church.
Welcome to the Holy City, Jerusalem!