The "Mediterranean, Frontier of Peace" meeting is taking place from 23 - 27 February in Florence The "Mediterranean, Frontier of Peace" meeting is taking place from 23 - 27 February in Florence  (ANSA)

Patriarch Pizzaballa: Florence meeting explores link between citizenship, identity and religion

The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, upholds the meeting of Bishops and Mayors of the Mediterranean in Florence as an opportunity for dialogue to find common policies for the Mediterranean.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, is among the participants in the “Mediterranean, Frontier of Peace,” meeting of the Bishops and Mayors of major cities of the Mediterranean, holding in Florence from 23 – 27 February.

The Florence meeting offers a forum for dialogue and mutual understanding between Church and State authorities on the challenges faced by communities and cities surround the Mare Nostrum, following the first meeting in Bari in February 2020.

In an interview with Vatican News, Patriarch Pizzaballa highlights the importance of a meeting – the first its kind – which brings together both religious and civil dimensions of society.

Bari meeting and the Covid-19 pandemic

Patriarch Pizzaballa notes that the Florence meeting is an opportunity to resume reflections from where the meeting in Bari (February 2020) left off, adding that the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictive measures did not permit for a lot to be achieved.

This meeting, however, he notes, will “try to give some orientation to all our churches in order to have a common language on some common topics, given also our diversity.”

Listen to our interview with Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa

Citizenship and the role of religion

Among the major themes on the agenda of the meeting is the issue of citizenship. In this regard, the Patriarch notes that religion has an important role in the building of positive citizenship.

He points out that the Church has the task of calling our political leaders to “find common policies for the Mediterranean” – not only concerning the riches and economic resources but also as it concerns people, human resources.

For this to happen, the Patriarch insists that a proper analysis of the situation has to be carried out in order to give concrete indications to politicians.


Another important challenge of the Mediterranean is migration, which the Patriarch says is “the result of political, economic and social situations” in many countries of the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East.

Many of the migrants who brave the Mediterranean waters, he explains, are fleeing from misery, tough economic situations, wars and other horrible predicaments.

In this regard, he highlights that the role of the Church is to stress to the political leaders, the importance of developing their countries in order to discourage them from fleeing their countries.

Ukraine crisis

At a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is at the center of preoccupations of both Church and state authorities, Pope Francis has declared Ash Wednesday, 2 March, as a Day of Fasting and Prayer for peace in Ukraine.

Patriarch Pizzaballa expressed sadness over the tragic scenes in Ukraine and said that he had sent messages of closeness to the Christian and Catholic communities in Ukraine. He also lamented the escalating conflict, which, he says, is a “consequence of ideological nationalism alimented also with some religious content.”

He expressed hope that the Florence meeting, which culminates with a visit from Pope Francis on Sunday, will be a good opportunity for exchange of view with the Mayors in order to make citizenship more concrete and visible.


25 February 2022, 11:31