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Cardinal Pizzaballa thanks Italian Bishops for support

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem addresses a video message to the Italian Bishops as they hold a Prayer Vigil for peace in the Holy Land, and thanks the Italian Church for its closeness to the suffering people in Gaza.

By Lisa Zengarini

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa has warmly thanked the Italian bishops meeting in Rome for their 79th General Assembly and the entire Church in Italy for their solidarity and closeness to the small Christian community in Gaza enduring the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.

Suffering, but no resentment from Christians in Gaza

The video was recorded in the Gaza Strip during the recent five-day pastoral he carried out last week to the Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza,  along with a small delegation including the parish priest of Gaza, Fr. Gabriele Romanelli.

The trip, which was the first visit he was able to make to the besieged enclave since the war broke out on October 7, 2023,  was the first stage of a joint humanitarian mission of the Latin Patriarchate and the Sovereign Order of Malta, in collaboration with Malteser International and other partners, to deliver life-saving food and medical help to the population in Gaza.

In his message Patriarch Pizzaballa said that during his stay from May 15-19, he found “a lot of pain and suffering, but no anger or resentment.”

“This struck me and says a lot about this community that lives here beyond these walls”, he said, noting that there are times when “you cannot solve problems, but you have to be there.”

The Italian-born cardinal assured that the Latin Patriarchate is doing all it can to help the suffering people in Gaza,  “so that this vicious cycle of violence can be stopped as soon as possible”.

Cardinal Zuppi visiting the Holy Land in June

He expressed his special thanks to Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) who has announced that he will travel to the Holy Land in June. “Thank you for helping us to live as Christians, as believers rooted in this land at this difficult time,“he concluded, asking for ongoing prayers.

“Pray for us and we will continue, as far as possible, despite everything, to pray and thank you.”

The Prayer Vigil for peace in St. Peter: ‘Shalom, Salam!’

The Prayer Vigil for peace in the Holy Land started at 8.30 pm Roman time, at the entrance of the Sant’uffizio Palace, on the left side of the colonnade, with the Italian bishops joined by religious men and women and a group of lay people.

It was led by Cardinal Zuppi who introduced the procession by entrusting their plea for peace in the Holy Land to the Virgin Mary. The procession then moved into Saint Peter’s Basilica  where after the reading of Luke’s Gospel on the Archangel Gabriel’s visitation to Mary the assembly recited the Rosary.

At the end of the prayer,  Cardinal Zuppi reaffirmed that the Church as a mother cannot resign to the tragic logic of evil: “The Church is a mother who takes us under every Cross raised by man’s madness, “ he said.  “Seeing this Mother crying, being with her helps us to cry and see the pain clearly so that it becomes an invocation.”

The president of the Italian bishops emphasized the importance of praying to the Mother of God  at his difficult time: “The sweet insistence of prayer with Mary – he said  – makes us insistent in seeking the path of peace to rebuild the human family.”

The Prayer Vigil concluded with the assembly again invoking peace also in Hebrew and Arabic: “Lord, disarm the tongue and the hands, renew the hearts and minds, so that the word that brings us together may always be ‘brother’, and the style of our life may become: ‘shalom, peace, salam!’ Amen”.

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