The Churches of Jerusalem meet for Easter greetings | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Churches of Jerusalem meet for Easter greetings

The proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection is a message that joyfully unites all Christian confessions. In order to share in this joy and to exchange Easter greetings, the Churches of Jerusalem came together together, as per tradition. The visits took place at two different times: on the week that followed Catholic Easter and on the week that followed Orthodox Easter. On April 10, at the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the leaders of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem gathered: the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa—as well as members of the Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Protestant and Evangelical communities—were present.

The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, for reasons related to the Status Quo, have the possibility, along with Greek Orthodox and Armenians, to visit each patriarchate individually. After welcoming some representatives from the Churches of Jerusalem on March 3, they themselves processed beginning at St. Savior’s monastery, as per tradition, so as to offer their well wishes for a happy Easter. On April 10, the visits of the Franciscans involved the Greek Orthodox in the morning and the Copts and Syriacs in the afternoon. On the other hand, in April it was the turn of the Armenians and the Ethiopians.

These are moments to come together, during which a very precise ceremony is followed, but there is also room for some spontaneity. After entering the patriarchate and being welcomed by the members of the community, the participants sat down in the reception hall and gave their official speeches. Afterwards, liqueurs, coffee and chocolates were served; that is when more informal conversations took place, along with the opportunity for people to get updated on the latest news.

Br. Dobromir Jasztal, the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, on these occasions, gave the official speeches, in the absence of the Custos, who is currently on a canonical visit to Cyprus.
Fr. Dobromir spoke about the message and joy of Easter and he highlighted some of the mutual collaborations that have taken place. For example, with the Greek Orthodox, there was collaboration for the restoration works at the Holy Sepulcher. “Despite the difficult circumstances of the Christian presence in this Land, the power of the Resurrection brings us together,” said the Vicar. “Today, we want to bear witness to Jesus’ brotherhood and victory.”

“We want to thank you for coming from the bottom of our hearts,” said the Coptic Patriarch, Anba Antonious, later on. “The cross is our bridge to pass from death to life; there is no resurrection without pain.”

“We are here to share the good news of Easter with our brothers and sisters who are suffering in Syria and in other countries,” said the Vicar on a visit to the Syriac Patriarchate. The Vicar reaffirmed his gratitude for the welcome he received on Holy Thursday during the pilgrimage to the Syriac Church of St. Mark

The Franciscans were also warmly welcomed at the Armenian Patriarchate, and Fr. Dobromir thanked the Armenians for their true brotherhood, because the community lives together in the Holy Land and in the Holy Places. The Armenian Patriarch, Nourhan Manougian, then pointed out that the Franciscans recently celebrated the anniversary of their 800-year presence in the Holy Land and how important their contribution in recent years has been to the local community.
With great friendliness and brotherhood, the Ethiopian Patriarch, Aba Embakob, also welcomed the Franciscans. The Easter greetings with the Ethiopians thus closed the meetings. With one voice, the Churches were witnesses that Christ is truly risen.

Beatrice Guarrera