The World

Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: "We have to work for the cessation of hostilities."

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, returned to the Holy Land on October 9. From a much changed Holy City, he answers Omnes' questions.

Federico Piana-October 16, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes

Pierbattista Pizzaballa ©CNS photo/Carol Glatz

"Right now we just have to pray." The Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa is aware that the situation in the Holy Land is becoming more complicated by the minute. Perhaps as never before. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem answers Omnes' questions from a Holy City that he himself describes as almost paralyzed. "Most activities are suspended, schools are closed. Only those who are forced to leave their homes are going out. A surreal situation, in which tension, fear and nervousness dominate," he says in a worried voice.

Caught by a terrible surprise

Anger, hatred, resentment and desire for revenge are the feelings that run through both the Israeli and Palestinian populations - with obviously opposite motives - like an overflowing river. The cardinal's account provokes a blow to the heart: "What we are experiencing cannot really be called an escalation of violence. It is something else. It is a great leap, painful, incredible, for which no one was prepared. It has been a terrible surprise.

Eclipsed hope

As it is, hope seems almost eclipsed. The Patriarch does not hide it when he makes his words clear and says that unfortunately "to speak of hope is complicated. Now we have to work for the cessation of hostilities. Only then will it be possible to rebuild, starting from the many debris, above all human, that this situation is creating. But it will take a long time," he says.

Repercussions also for the Church

The war in the Holy Land does not spare the Church any repercussions either. "The Church's activities," says Pizzaballa, "are reduced to a minimum. Of course, we continue to pray and celebrate Holy Mass, even if not everyone can attend, because the Palestinian territories are closed. We also continue to ensure humanitarian services."

The difficult path of diplomacy

For now, the cardinal does not see much room for diplomatic maneuvers because, he explains, "it is still early: we are still in the heart of military tension, of emotions. Perhaps in a few days it will be easier to identify an interlocutor and some channels of communication". Pizzaballa's commitment on this front is "to try to rebuild relations, talk to the various religious leaders and identify possible avenues of confrontation," he says.

The appeal to the international community

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem then launches an appeal to the international community: "It must immediately engage in a de-escalation of this conflict, because if it were to continue, the risk of it spreading would be almost certain. It would be an enormous tragedy that would go far beyond these borders".

The authorFederico Piana

 Journalist. He works for Vatican Radio and collaborates with L'Osservatore Romano.

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