Yesterday, October 24, the Vatican announced the decision of Pope Francis to appoint Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Some may ask why he is not a native of the country, from Palestine or Jordan, as is the case in all countries of the world, where the bishop is taken from the people and from the diocese?
We all prefer, of course, that one of the sons of the Church of Jerusalem to head it, but the Church in general and the Church of Jerusalem in specific has a special status and considerations that makes its moral boundaries much wider than its geographical ones. It is the Mother Church, the early Church of all Christians in the world, and therefore its believers are Christians throughout the world. As children of the diocese of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a whole, it is an honor for us to be children of the Mother Church, believers who pray with the Christians of the world. And then we do not grow up as children of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, if we restrict Jerusalem to ourselves. We do not grow old if we make the Church of Jerusalem a national church. The Church is a divine institution suited to all nations and transcends all nations. In this divine institution, all believers are equal, regardless of their geographical origins or national affiliations. In addition to that, the Church of the Holy Land has been distinguished throughout history by its attraction to monks and nuns from all parts of the earth who came to pray in it, and to serve the person in it, every human being, the children of the diocese and the people of the whole nation.
It is true that the patriarch or the bishop, whatever the geography he came from, is the one who heads the church, but teaching and reality say that the presidency is a service, and the opposite is a deviation. Priests are also partners in the service, that is, in the presidency. Likewise, the laity, if they realize their position and live their faith, are also partners. The Church is a group of faith and believers, and the true believer finds his place in the service, that is, in participating in the presidency, that is, in decision-making, if he truly believes, and he accumulates to his faith wisdom and love.
When the church becomes a group of people for or against, the church is no longer a church. Rather, it is a group of people, moved away from its faith, its being and its goal. The Church is every believer in it, the president, the Patriarch, the priests and the believers, united by their faith. By the strength of their faith and love, they achieve their unity and participate in the revival of the Church, so that all of them, each and every one of them, become a source of life for all the children of the Church and for the community in which they are located.
Pope Francis, President of the Church on Earth, has appointed Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa as Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins, and he has taken into consideration the local Church and the universal Church associated with our Church, so this step does not mean in the future not to return to appointing a member of the diocese. Today after the appointment of the new Patriarch, the good of the Church requires the cooperation of everyone, the awareness of everyone, and serious faith with hard work, all together, the Patriarch, the bishops, the priests and the believers in the various parishes, all cooperate with the new Patriarch in order to develop a plan of action to form a believer person who is a maker for himself and his community, a maker. For a person who knows himself, knows God, and knows how to deal with the affairs of earth and heaven. The basis of the church is the spirit, so if the affairs of the spirit are straightforward, the affairs of the earth are also straightforward, and if the soul is absent and faith is absent, no matter what we do or say, we will keep the church far from its goal. Sincere believers are called upon to work together to stimulate people’s faith in the first place, because faith is the foundation and it is one that brings economic strength, social standing and other worldly matters, as well as the affairs of the soul.
Lord Jesus Christ said: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the rest will be added to you” (Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 6, verse 33). So the challenge before us today and every day is how to seek God’s blessings. A new Patriarch is to lead the march, and we will discover with him how we can seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, so that everything related to earthly affairs will be added to us.
By: Wadie Abunassar