Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton issued a message on June 23, 2022 inviting pilgrims to visit the Holy Land.
He addressed pilgrims and friends saying, “I would like to reach to you through this video inviting you to return to the Holy Land. We have spent two very difficult years but thank God we are slowly getting out of it. We need you to feel that we are part of a Church that is universal again. Please do not be afraid to come and visit the holy places. A pilgrimage is an experience of faith and helps us to grow in faith.”
He added, “Here in the land of Jesus there are no more dangers than elsewhere, and in fact the pilgrimage is an occasion to learn how to trust in God. For sure, our life is safe always and only when it is in His hands,” noting that “we are waiting for you my dear Pilgrims and Friends: in Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land.”
The message expressed by Fr. Patton is quite reassuring as it expresses optimism in a future full of hope and aspirations for the people of the Holy Land. Furthermore, his message accentuates the need to ensure a massive arrival of pilgrims to the Holy Land, with contaminant assurances that there are no more dangers than elsewhere. His message sheds light on the pilgrimage situation to the Holy Land which was greatly paralyzed almost to a minimum following the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Yet after the pandemic was contained, the situation has improved gradually. It is hoped that the outbreak of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, which seemingly has a toll on Western economies, will not adversely affect pilgrimage to the Christian holy sites in the Holy Land. Press reports indicate that religious pilgrimage to the Holy Land is gradually recovering, which is a sign that prompts optimism and hope. On the other hand, reports emerging from Bethlehem in particular indicate that religious tourism has recovered with large numbers of tourists arriving in the city whose economy depends to a great extent on tourism. Furthermore, there are firm indications that dozens of hotels in Bethlehem have been built in Bethlehem which will hopefully breathe a new life into the tourism sector. It is also hoped that the current situation will continue to improve thus leading to the alleviation of the economic meltdown that affected the people of the city for a long time.
In conjunction with the call by Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton to breathe a new life to pilgrimage in the Holy Land, a Jordanian delegation consisting of the Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site Authority, and the Catholic Center for Studies and Media participated in the 10th International Conference of Religious Tourism which convened in Fatima, Portugal, and organized by the Portuguese ACISO Organization on June 23-24.
During the two-day conference, the Jordanian delegation stressed that Portugal, Spain, and other major European countries are important targeted markets for religious pilgrimage, because they constitute markets that provide Jordan with the opportunity to communicate with North America and Latin America, and consequently provide an opportunity for pilgrims from all over the world to travel to Jordan and complete pilgrimage trips.
Visiting Jordan, the land of holiness will definitely enrich pilgrims with a unique experience of its kind, namely a homogeneous mixture of tourism and spiritual experiences mixed with the authentic Jordanian spirit of its people. Furthermore, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, with Jordan being part of it, is indeed a life-transforming experience where one can rediscover hidden treasures, such as the life of Lord Jesus and the Christian communities, namely the living stones. The journey to the Holy Land represents a unique time, where one can reach out to the local communities, as well as share common faith and values as the need for a human and spiritual connection is greater than ever.
It is undeniable that the return of pilgrims to the Holy Land will serve as a light of hope to sustain the Christian communities and the Church’s mission. Consequently, strenuous efforts should be strongly and continuously exerted to resuscitate pilgrimage trips and to restore normalcy to life by giving hope to the people whose life depends greatly on pilgrimage to these holy sites.
In light of the state of instability and confusion prevailing globally, we pray that wars will come to an end at the global level and be replaced by genuine divine peace, where peoples regard one another as brethren and work hand-in-hand with fraternal love for the prosperity of humanity free from grudges, hatred, and violence.
It is also hoped that the Middle East will enjoy permanent peace and stability thus enabling tourists to visit the Holy Land and be blessed by Christian holy sites.
By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org