By Benedict Mayaki
In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Custos of the Holy Land highlighted the necessity of tailoring the important task of transmitting the faith to suit the characters of the diverse peoples and religions of the Mediterranean region.
While speaking on the most effective means of transmitting the faith, Fr. Francesco Patton O.F.M noted that the situation of the Holy Land is different from that of Europe.
He emphasized the place of the family as the primary milieu for the transmission of the faith because of the strong religious culture it inculcates in the children. “The Christian families and the families in the Middle East and Holy Land are strongly rooted in their religious traditions. They know if they are Christians, Muslims or Hebrew.”
For the Latin community, Fr. Patton proposed the use of catechesis in the parishes. “Parishes have a very important role in catechesis. All Latin parishes prepare children for sacraments and there are youth initiatives for young people.”
In the case of the Oriental Churches, their strong emphasis on the liturgy serves as fertile ground for faith transmission. “For Oriental Christians, liturgy is the formation for all Christian life”, he said.
Peculiarity of Holy Land
Highlighting the uniqueness of the Holy Land, Fr. Patton said that it presents the younger generation with the special resource of being able to visit the holy places they read about in the Bible.
“We can read and teach our faith in places that are strictly related and connected with gospel. For example, we can read the gospel of the annunciation in Nazareth, the nativity in Bethlehem, and in Galilee, all the pages of the gospel in which we see Jesus preaching and healing.”
Parishes and Schools as means to Peace
While briefly overviewing the different situations of unrest in the Middle East, Fr. Patton encouraged the use of schools and parishes as agents of education for peace.
“We can do the best in our schools and in our parishes to educate for peace because we are not political superpowers that can directly influence the process but we can educate…we hope that those who come to our schools will, in the future, be people of peace.”