The churches of Jerusalem united in announcing the Resurrection

Chatting, coffee and friendship: Just a few days after Easter, the leaders of Jerusalem’s churches met, as is customary every year, so as to exchange wishes. On April 18 and 19, the main seats of the different churches opened their doors to welcome the various delegations, according to a rather busy program. Between chocolates and drinks, casual chats and official handshakes, the sharing of the joy of Easter has brought the Christian churches together.

“Let us pray and hope that the message of peace and reconciliation that Easter has brought to us may deeply reach the hearts of the people of the Middle East and the world,” said the Custos of the Holy Land to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The meeting also commended the mutual cooperation for the restoration projects on the Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher, as the Greek Patriarch Theophilus III emphasized, “This project has been a great sign of unity among us.” The same was reaffirmed in the late morning when the Greek Orthodox also visited the Franciscans by meeting at the Sala del Divano at Saint Savior’s. “Like a family today, we can proclaim Jesus’ resurrection with one voice,” continued Theophilus. Two meetings between the communities within a few hours were thus representative of the “providential coincidence” of having celebrated Easter on the same day. So, in order to exchange well wishes with each other, visits were made on the same day or the next day. It had not happened since 2014 and the next time will not be until 2025.

On the occasion of the well wishes that were made to the Coptic Church, Fr. Francesco Patton expressed his solidarity with the attacks in Egypt that occurred on Palm Sunday: “We know that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. We strongly hope that Pope Francis’ and Pope Tawadros’ next visit will be a concrete sign of the closeness by the Catholic Church with the Coptic Church.” The Coptic bishop Anba Antonius, echoed that statement: “It will be an important meeting. Pope Tawadros loves all of the churches and always prays that one day we may become one church.”

With the Kawas at the head of the procession, the Franciscan friars then went to Ethiopia. The members of the Ethiopian Church joyfully responded to the well wishes of a “happy and holy Easter” of the Custos, through the words of Bishop Abuna Matthias I. “We together are witnessing the power of Christ’s resurrection,” continued the the Custos, Fr. Patton, when on the following day, he welcomed the leaders of the Ethiopian Church to Saint Savior’s.

Even at the meeting with the Syriac Orthodox Church, the climate was very cordial. At the Franciscan delegation, composed mostly by young seminarians, Syrian Bishop Swerios Malki Murad said, “We hope to see all of the bishops and cardinals in the future. We want to express our closeness to the brothers and sisters who are suffering from violence and war, especially in Syria, Iraq and in recent days in Egypt,” said the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton .

The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, also desired to send his Easter well wishes during his visit to the Franciscans. He thanked them for their witness and service in the Holy Land, recalling the founder of their order: “The sons of Francis are in love, like their father, with Jesus’ humanity and are the enthusiastic announcers of his incarnation, without which there could be no resurrection. Let your life continue to be an announcement of God’s love.” Also present was the Greek Catholic Bishop Joseph Jules Zerey. Beginning on April 12, the friars of the Custody went to the Latin Patriarchate for their traditional Easter wishes, assuring Pizzaballa, as Fr. Francesco Patton said, of “the collaboration and prayers for his ministry.”
April 19 was the turn of the Armenian community: “We work together for faith and we must be an example for other Christians,” Patriarch Nurhan Manougian said in the hall at Saint Savior’s Monastery. In the splendid hall of the Armenian Patriarchate, in the afternoon, the Custos of the Holy Land expressed his joy for being there and recalled that “thanks only to the resurrection is a new humanity possible.”

On April 19, another sign of closeness and solidarity took place in the afternoon for the friars of the Coptic and Syriac churches who visited the Franciscans. Fr. Patton pronounced the prayer for peace and for the dead and the wounded in the attacks. The Coptic bishop said, “We consider these meetings as encounters of charity and we hope that the whole world may understand the message of the Risen Jesus, a message of charity and love for all men.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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