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Retired Jerusalem patriarch speaks about challenges faced by his successor

July 05, 2016

The retired Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has granted an interview in which he discussed the challenges faced by his temporary successor.

Pope Francis recently accepted the resignation of Patriarch Fouad Twal for reasons of age and, in a surprise choice, named Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa as apostolic administrator, raising him to the dignity of an archbishop.

Archbishop Pizzaballa, 51, was Custos of the Holy Land from 2004 until May 2016. As Custos he served as provincial superior of the Franciscans in the Middle East and was entrusted with the pastoral care of pilgrims to the Holy Land’s shrines. The Catholic Herald reported that the appointment of Archbishop Pizzaballa evoked surprise, in part because the new administrator does not speak Arabic.

Archbishop Pizzaballa “knows very well the challenges and problems of the Church in the Holy Land, which I have often referred to as the Church of Calvary,” said Patriarch Twal. “To these assets, nevertheless, are the added problems of the Arabic language, the Eastern mentality and all pastoral activity.”

“It will be definitely be easier to remedy the weaknesses of the administration than to manage the pastoral care of the Arab faithful,” he continued. “But it is also true that foreign faithful of the Latin Patriarchate now outnumber the local Arab Christians.”

The retired patriarch added:

The strength of the new Administrator would be to totally win the confidence of the priests, begin the reform with conviction and without hesitation, while remembering that the administrator’s job does not always mean popularity. He will also have to ensure keeping this delicate balance of relations with the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian authorities.


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