His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, spoke with the bishops and delegates of the Holy Land Coordination about the Holy City of Jerusalem, describing it as “an unprecedented reality” which is part of the heritage of the whole world.
Patriarch Pizzaballa defended the right of the Christian community to express its vision of Jerusalem: universal, multicultural, open and united, a common heritage and not the exclusive monopoly of any party.
He stressed the need to preserve the Christian character of the city – visible and public – as an essential cornerstone to maintain its universal appeal.
Speaking to us afterwards, he explained that Jerusalem’s iconic gates should not be “defended” but “defined”:
“Usually we talk, here in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, about the need to defend ourselves, our borders – identity borders, physical borders, political borders, etc.
“In our Christian tradition, the role of Jerusalem is to be open and the doors are there to ‘define’ identities but not to ‘defend’ others. It’s a completely different perspective. We need to let people know that we want to be inclusive without “cancelling” different identities.
“The problems of Christians are not different from the problems of other peoples. We are different religions, but have the same realities of life. Thus the economy, a consequence of the political conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the territories – especially the problem of The occupation, the housing problem in Jerusalem, common problems unfortunately.
“Advocacy is important. I think a lot of people don’t know that. So let people know and let people come here, because pilgrimages bring a lot of job opportunities and serenity to the lives of many families. “
Watch Patriarch Pizzaballa’s speech here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVH-Hy9uj4k