VATICAN - Pope Francis to Catholics in the Holy Land: in these bleak times, participate in the Passion of Christ and bear witness that "the crucified Lord rose from the dead"

Wednesday, 27 March 2024 pope francis   jerusalem   area crisis   easter  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian community of the Holy Land, over the centuries, "has constantly witnessed, through its own sufferings, to the mystery of the Lord’s Passion". Thanks to this singular proximity to the saving mystery of the Passion of Christ "she proclaimed, and continues to proclaim, that the crucified Lord rose from the dead; bearing the marks of his Passion, but he then appeared to his disciples and ascended to heaven to bring before the Father our tormented yet now redeemed humanity". And this also happens "in these bleak times, when it seems that the dark clouds of Good Friday hover over your land, and all too many parts of our world are scarred by the pointless folly of war, which is always and for everyone a bitter defeat", writes Pope Francis, in a letter addressed to the Catholics of the Holy Land on the occasion of Holy Week 2024. The papal message, published today, Wednesday March 27, by the Vatican Press Office, is an act of thanks and gratitude towards those whom the Pope describes as "lamps shining in the night", "seeds of goodness in a land rent asunder by conflict".
For some time – writes the Bishop of Rome in the first lines of his letter "you have daily been in my thoughts and prayers. Now, on the eve of this Easter that for you is so overshadowed by the Passion and, as yet, so little by the Resurrection, I feel the desire to write to you and to tell you how close you are to my heart". The Pope embraces in particular "those most affected by the senseless tragedy of war: the children robbed of their future, those who grieve and are in pain, and all who find themselves prey to anguish and dismay". And to all he addresses his "Thank you for your testimony of faith, thank you for the charity that exists among you, thank you for your ability to hope against all hope".
The Successor of Peter implores "the Lord Jesus, our Life, asking that like the Good Samaritan, he pours over the wounds in body and soul the balm of his consolation and the wine of hope". Pope Francis also quotes his predecessor Paul VI who fifty years ago, in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Nobis in Animo' wrote: "The continuing tensions in the Middle East, and the lack of concrete progress towards peace, represent a constant and dire threat not only to the peace and security of those peoples – and indeed of the entire world – but also to values supremely dear, for different reasons, to much of mankind".
In the last part of his message, Pope Francis addresses other words of comfort and closeness to Catholics and all Christians in the Holy Land: "You are not alone; we will never leave you alone, but will demonstrate our solidarity with you by prayer and practical charity. Soon we hope to return among you as pilgrims, to draw near to you, to embrace you, to break with you the bread of fraternity and to contemplate the tender shoots of hope that spring from the seeds you are sowing in pain and nurturing with patience". The Pope concluded his letter by invoking on the Catholics of the Holy Land "t he protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, daughter of your land", and by renewing the invitation "to all the Christians throughout the world to manifest their concrete support for you and to pray tirelessly that all the people of your beloved land may dwell at last in peace". (GV) Agenzia Fides, 27/3/2024)