ASIA/HOLY LAND - Jerusalem, Covid outbreak in the Latin Patriarchate. Patriarch Pizzaballa also positive

Wednesday, 16 December 2020 middle east   jerusalem   christmas   pandemic   pilgrimages  

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - Two weeks after his inauguration as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pizzaballa has been infected with the Covid-19 virus. This is what he himself said on December 15 during a video conference with some journalists. "The Covid is spreading widely in the Patriarchate. Six cases have been recorded and we are all in quarantine. I am positive too, but I am doing well", said the Patriarch during the video conference, adding that among the infected people working in the Patriarchate, "there is no serious case, we are all asymptomatic or with mild symptoms".
During the video conference, the Patriarch provided news on the impact of the pandemic on the local Christian community and on the rest of the population, reporting that even among the priests of the Latin Patriarchate there are about twenty asymptomatic positives to the virus, adding that the pandemic epidemic is affecting above all the population of Palestine, "in fact out of control".
The new pandemic wave will have significant effects on the upcoming Christmas celebrations in the Holy Land. Patriarch Pizzaballa confirmed that the traditional midnight mass will be celebrated in Bethlehem, in the Basilica of the Nativity, albeit with reduced participation. For the rest, the Christians of the Holy Land are preparing to live a Christmas time without pilgrims. "It is the first time that we cannot have a true ecclesial life: we did not celebrate Easter with dignity and it will be the same at Christmas", the Patriarch acknowledged with regret.
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who belongs to the Order of Friars Minor, was appointed by Pope Francis as Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins on 24 October 2020, after having been Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate for four years and before that, Custos of the Holy Land for 12 years. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 16/12/2020)