JERUSALEM – At the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre there arose a deep and sincere gratitude for the election of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome and successor of Saint Peter, the Mass was celebrated by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, bishops, priests, religious men and women, lay faithful and pilgrims were present on Monday, March 18, at 10:00 am.
The Church of Jerusalem gathered her children around the altar of the Holy Sepulchre for the most beautiful and solemn celebration of the Eucharist, broadly participated in, and prayed in gratitude to the Holy Spirit. The ancient words of the Paschal Mystery are those that express with the utmost truth and accuracy the astonishment, gratitude and joy for the election of Pope Francis.
The gestures, words, and ways that the Argentine Pope showed us in the early days of his pontificate filled every heart with hope and renewed enthusiasm for the vitality of our beloved Church. “The entire Church justly anticipates – if we can say so – the feast of Easter, with this sense of exuberant joy that characterizes us all. We rejoice because we have a new Bishop of Rome, a new Successor of Saint Peter, a disciple of Ignatius of Loyola, who in a certain way has also wanted to become a son of Saint Francis of Assisi” said the Custos in his homily.
According to Father Pizzaballa, the Church of the Holy Land can consider two points (of many!) of the pontificate of Pope Francis:
1) The name Francis, the saint of the poor and simple but most importantly, the saint who has fallen in love with Christ, and with Christ poor and crucified, tells us that “we who live in these Places which celebrate the memory of Christ crucified and risen, should ask ourselves unceasingly and relentlessly, what it means to give witness in the midst of other brothers of different faiths, a witness of love for the poor and for justice, not in an abstract way, not simply presenting them as generic common values, but as an immediate consequence of our love for Christ crucified.”
2) Journeying and staying together through Christ and meeting Christ, reminds us that “Our ancient traditions, our various Status Quo, and the many particular details of each of our Churches and institutions, sometimes do not help our faithful and do not help us to see ourselves as a body on a journey. We seem to be bound and hindered by so many bonds, by small and large fears, by some jealousies, by the fear of losing a part of our power. And yet this Place tells us that we should know that we have to lose, and that we attain life only when we lose it.”
Present at the celebration with Patriarch Fouad Twal were the Papal Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Ordinaries of the Holy Land, the Consuls of some countries, Ambassador of Argentina to Israel and Palestine, the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches of Jerusalem, as well as representatives of local civil authorities.
After the singing of the Te Deum, the Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, expressed his “hope to see the Pope visit the Holy Land where Peter received the mandate of confirming his brothers in the faith. And while we await this moment, we should continue to support Pope Francis with our affection, our love and also with our prayer so that this great innovation that the Holy Spirit gave to the church is concretized and becomes real, because the Holy Spirit is a regenerative force and always creates new things.”
By Andres Bergamini