Cardinal-elect Pierbattista Pizzaballa was taken by surprise on Sunday when Pope Francis announced at the Angelus address that he would create the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem a Cardinal, along with 20 other Church leaders from various parts of the world.
The Pope announced an ordinary Consistory for the Creation of Cardinals to be held in St. Peter’s Basilica on 30 September.
Jerusalem’s ‘vocation to dialogue and encounter’
As the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since 24 October 2020, Patriarch Pizzaballa has expressed his astonishment at the “great surprise”.
Speaking to Andrea Tornielli, the Editorial Director of Vatican Media, the Cardinal-elect said he interprets the Pope’s decision to create him Cardinal as “a sign of attention from the Church of Rome towards the Mother Church, the Church of Jerusalem.”
He highlighted the vocation of his particular Church to promote dialogue and unity among the Churches.
Cardinal-elect Pizzaballa said the Church of Jerusalem bears “a vocation to universality, dialogue, and encounter” and a special mission “to call all Christians and non-Christians to encounter and reconciliation.”
He concluded by saying he thinks Pope Francis’ decision represents an “invitation to continue along this path.”
Tensions in the Holy Land
The Patriarch’s appointment comes in the wake of heightened tensions in the Holy Land, following recent violence in Jenin due to an Israeli military operation.
Thousands of Palestinians have fled the refugee camp in the northern West Bank, and several casualties have been reported.
Pope Francis lamented the violence at his Sunday Angelus, and called for the resumption of dialogue and the pursuit of paths leading to reconciliation and peace.
A Franciscan in the Holy Land
Cardinal-elect Pierbattista Pizzaballa was born on 21 April 1965, in Cologno al Serio, in Italy’s Bergamo region.
He made his solemn profession in the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) at St. Anthony’s Church in Bologna at the age of 24 and was ordained a priest the following year.
Proficient in Italian, modern Hebrew, and English, he contributed to the Hebrew translation of the Roman Missal in 1995 and translated various liturgical texts for Catholic communities in Israel.
Since 2 July 1999, he has served as the Custos of the Holy Land, and on 24 October 2020, Pope Francis appointed him as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
By Benedetta Capelli