The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal and the Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, both said this week that after his apostolic trip to the Holy Land, “Benedict XVI has left seeds of hope in these places which remind us of the Gospel. Now it is our turn as pastors of small flock to see that they bear the fruits of peace, reconciliation and unity.”
In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano, the patriarch said that the Holy Father “has above all given us conviction and courage.” “We did not expect miracles, but we do have to pray and give the Lord time to reap what has been sowed,” he said.
The archbishop also underscored that Benedict XVI “has asked Christians to remain here, to resist despite the complexity of the situation, because these holy places are also places of the cross. It is a challenge that is also accepted in dramatic conditions.”
For his part, the Custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said the Pope “has given strength to the Christians of the Holy Land. In addition, in this inter-religious context, he knew how to speak to Muslims and Jews with clarity.”
He went on to explain that “now it is necessary to prepare for peace, which must be based on integrity, on the dignity of the persons, on relationships that made in freedom and based on mutual trust. We need much time, but the signs and gestures that were made during the Pope’s visit point to the goal, and in particular, show that it is possible to obtain it. These are not utopian dreams, but rather something that can become a reality if we truly want it.”
Commenting later about how the Holy Father mentioned the testimony of St. Francis of Assisi on certain occasions, Father Pizzaballa noted that “not only did we like this recognition, it inspires us to continue fulfilling our duty with passion and love. Above all we will continue helping people to remain in these places, supporting them with housing and employment, the two things are essential for our multi-secular presence in the Holy Land.”