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Franciscan leader explains moving Easter date to match Orthodox observance in Holy Land

CWN - November 05, 2012

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Franciscan Custos for the Holy Land, reflects on the decision to align the Catholic celebration of Easter with that of the Orthodox churches in the Holy Land.

The Latin-rite patriarchate of Jerusalem has announced that Catholic churches will observe Easter On May 5, 2013, instead of March 31. The May 5 date reflects the old Julian calendar, which the Orthodox churches still use.

That decision, Father Pizzaballa explained, was motivated not only by ecumenical concerns but also by the pastoral needs of many families. “Because all families are mixed families,” he said. “One part is Orthodox and another Catholic.”

The change in the liturgical calendar will not apply in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem. In those cities, the celebration of Easter will occur at the same time as in other Catholic churches, to accommodate the many pilgrims who visit for Holy Week.

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