By Lisa Zengarini
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, is in Jordan for a two weeks' pastoral and official visit which is his first one since his appointment as head of the Latin Church in the Holy Land on October 24.
On January 9, two days after his arrival in Amman, Archbishop Pizzaballa headed the traditional pilgrimage to the Baptism Site of Jesus on the River Jordan, which enters its 21st year, and presided over the Holy Mass in the Baptism Church. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there was no public attendance and the ceremony was live-streamed. Amongst the officials present were the heads and representatives of the local Catholic Churches and of other Christian Churches, Bishop Mauro Lalli, chargé d'affaires of the Nunciature in Jordan, and the Secretary General of the Jordan Ministry of Tourism, Mr Imad Hijazin.
In his homily, His Beatitude Pizzaballa referred to the on-going COVID-19 crisis saying that: “In in these difficult times of closure in which we are not allowed to attend public liturgies, we must not let ourselves think that our lives are suspended, but must return to and strengthen family prayer and improve our family relationships. We should ask ourselves, what the Lord is asking of us now. In a way, we too are required to grow in wisdom and grace before God and before other people”, he added.
Meeting with King Abdullah
Another highlight of the Latin Patriarch’s visit has been a virtual meeting, on January 10, with King Abdullah of Jordan, Custodian of the Islamic and Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem, who congratulated Archbishop Pizzaballa for his recent appointment. During the meeting, King Abdullah praised Jordan’s deep-rooted ties with Pope Francis and the Holy See, emphasizing their shared commitment to peace and moderation against violence. He also highlighted the important role of the Latin Patriarchate and other Churches in Jerusalem in promoting unity amongst Jerusalemites, which – he said - is the key to interreligious harmony and for preserving the historical and legal “Status quo” of the Holy City.
Meeting with local priests
According to the Catholic Arabic website Abouna.org , on Monday, January 11, Patriarch Pizzaballa met a group of local priests in videoconference. The meeting was introduced by Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan. In his address, Patriarch Pizzaballa spoke about his pastoral plans, which include, amongst other things, involving priests and laypeople together in the pastoral activities of the Patriarchate. This was further discussed by the priests during the meeting. For his part, the Patriarch emphasized his willingness to work together with all the clergy to improve the pastoral, cultural, spiritual and humanitarian services of the the patriarchal institutions.
Yesterday, Archbishop Pizzaballa met the priests and ecclesiastical lawyers working in the Latin Ecclesiastical Court in Amman and was informed about its activities. He also visited the Patriarchate Schools General Directorate in Jordan, where he was acquainted with their current situation and future perspectives, and the Financial Committee Office of the Latin Vicariate of Amman. Archbishop Pizzaballa’s visit in Jordan will end on January 21st.