Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Meeting Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa

Our second official meeting today (5 December 2007) was with Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, at his residence in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. Like His Beatitude Theophilos III, Fr Pizzaballa expressed concern for the Holy Places of Jerusalem, and singled out the problems surrounding repairs to the electrical wiring and sewage system of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as significant stumbling blocks to ecumenical fellowship in Jerusalem. But he advised us that the Christian Churches in the Holy Land were not always fighting over such issues. If you want to know more, you need to understand the principle of status quo.

Fr Pizzaballa also expressed mild concern about the longterm status of Christian witness in Jerusalem, and suggested that the international Christian community had a role to play in defending Christian presence in Israel. Further, the "emergency situation" (including violent conflict and the Security Barrier) was not desirable, and it must not be allowed to affect Christian work. He urged Australian Christians to pray for Israel and Palestine, to talk about the tensions and conflict, and to commit to coming on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

On this occasion we were served soft drinks. And on one of the walls was a very large painting depicting St Francis meeting the Sultan of Babylon, which led to the establishment of Franciscan work, and land grants, in Jerusalem.

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