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The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, celebrates Mass in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, celebrates Mass in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem 

Holy Land: Patriarch of Jerusalem calls for unity within the Church

On the World Day for Peace the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, appealed for for more unity in the Church in the Holy Land.

By Lisa Zengarini

On the World Day for Peace the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, reflected on peace from an internal, ecclesial perspective, linked to the diocesan life of the local Church, calling for more unity in the light of the Gospel.

In his homily the prelate pointed out four barriers that risk hindering the “ecclesial journey” of the Catholic community in the Patriarchate and stressed the need to address these issues to make the local Church’s life more fruitful.

Clericalism

The first barrier he mentioned is clericalism, which has been often criticized by Pope Francis and which, although common in many Churches in the world, is particularly evident in the Holy Land. “The collaboration between priests and laity is often misunderstood and ends up becoming: ‘simply do what the priest wants’”, he said, remarking that local culture doesn’t help. “It is difficult to convince having parish councils and to be able to share ideas and initiatives. On the other hand, it is also true that it is difficult to find formed, committed lay people willing to make a positive contribution to the community”, he added.

Generation gap

The second barrier is the generation gap between those who look back to the past and “regret a model of Church that no longer exists” and the younger generations who “want to change even what may not need to be changed”. Noting that both reactions are ways of escaping from the present, the Patriarch pointed to the need to listen to each other, while being “grateful for what has been done up to now and open to new paths according to God's grace”.

Complementarity of local and universal components

Archbishop Pizzaballa then spoke about the distance between the local and the universal component. He said there is a common temptation, on the one hand, “to consider the universal component as a ‘guest’ and not as an integral part of the Church” and “on the other hand, to consider the local component as irrelevant, outdated or even in extinction. The Patriarch emphasized that both parts are necessary to the Church and must support each other.

Diverse national identities

According to Archbishop Pizzaballa, the conflictual national identities in the four territories included in the Patriarchate (Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus) also affect the life of the local Church and can be a barrier, as the richness of different languages spoken by the Catholic communities in the region are. Again, he stressed that there “are not four Churches, but only one Church, which has different identities within it. All these different identities combine to build a plural, multiform, open and non-monochrome identity of a Church that is not absorbed by identity conflicts”, he added.

Noting that the causes of all these difficulties are, basically, individualism, at the end of his homily the Patriarch said that “the way to improvement” is to start “from our relationship with Christ and not from our needs, placing our heart in the heart of Christ, reading our reality, even ecclesial, in the light of the Word of God. We cannot live without love and the love from which we have to start is the love of Him who gave his life for us and our salvation. This will be the path that awaits us”, he concluded.

02 January 2021, 18:19