His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, spoke to the Bishops and delegates of the Holy Land Coordination about the Holy City of Jerusalem describing it as “an unparalleled reality” that 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 in solidarity, a common patrimony and not an exclusive monopoly of any party.
He stressed the need to preserve the Christian character of the city – visible and public – as a key building block essential to maintain its universal appeal.
Speaking to us afterwards he talked about how Jerusalem’s iconic gates should not be to ‘defend’ but to ‘define’:
“Usually we talk, here in the Middle East, especially in Holy Land, about the need to defend ourselves, our borders – identity borders, physical borders, political borders and so on.
“In our Christian tradition, the role of Jerusalem is to be open and the gates are there to ‘define’ the identities but not to ‘defend’ from the others. This is a completely different perspective. We have to let people know that we want to be inclusive without ‘cancelling’ different identities.
“The problems of Christians are no different from the problems of the other people. We are different religions, but have the same life realities. So the economy, the consequence of the political conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the territories – especially the problem of Occupation, the problem of housing in Jerusalem. Common problems, unfortunately.
“Advocacy is important. I think many people don’t know. So let people know and let people come here, because pilgrimages bring a lot of job opportunities and serenity in the life of many families.”