On the same day, the Holy See accepts the resignation of Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch, and appoints the former custodian of the Holy Land as apostolic administrator of the patriarchate. Facing new challenges, addressing the geopolitical and socio-religious changes taking place in the Middle East.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The former custodian of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was today appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Latins which is now vacant. In fact today, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of his beatitude Fouad Twal for reasons of age.
Fr. Pizzaballa, 51 has worked in the Holy Land since 1999, was elected Custodian in May 2004. On 22 March 2010 he was re-elected. In 2013 he was postulated for another three years. His term ended in April 2016. With a fine knowledge of Jewish culture, he also taught Biblical Hebrew at the Franciscan Faculty of Biblical and Archaeological Sciences in Jerusalem and maintains relations with many Israeli Jewish personalities.
Sobhy Makhoul, prosecutor of the Maronite Church in Jerusalem told AsiaNews that the Holy See was faced with the problem of the change of the Churches’ two most important personalities for the Church of the Holy Land: the Custodian and Patriarch. "The Holy See’s choice is smart and the right one".
"It 's also a wise choice to respond to the need to reorganize and restructure the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as a result of geopolitical and socio-religious changes that are transforming and inverting the Christian presence", where the faithful are growing thanks to immigration from Africa and Asia, where the presence of local Christians is shrinking more and more.
"Much of the Patriarchate territory - continues Makhoul - includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Cyprus. And the territory of the Custody they includes Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. The former Custodian is the right person: twenty years of experience in the East, managerial skills, intelligence and diligence are the characteristics of the new Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa".
The Apostolic Administrator refers to a "substantial increase" of the faithful visiting the holy places. Chinese and Indonesian "want to pray" and deal "with the local community." Pilgrimages are safe. To heal the wounds in the Middle East serves justice accompanied by mercy. Encounter with a people and a wounded community the reasons for renewed hope.
The new Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem recounts the challenges of his mission. From the relationship with the Israeli leadership to the drift towards fundamentalism and the need to respond with "encounter and dialogue”. What’s more, the pastoral care of migrants and reception of refugees fleeing the war. The inability to forgive, is the "main problem" in the Middle East.