04/15/2013, 00.00
VATICAN - HOLY LAND
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Mgr Shomali: Pope Francis embraces the Church of the Holy Land

The auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem was part of the delegation from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem that went on an official visit to the Pope. After the audience, the Pontiff surprised everyone by having lunch with the delegates at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "On our return, we shall tell the faithful in the Holy Land about then pope's great love for the Church that lives and prays in the places where Jesus Christ lived."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Pope Francis is a man who loves his people and a pastor who wants to live with his flock," said Mgr William Shomali, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem. Speaking to AsiaNews, he recounted the meeting he and the delegation from the Latin Patriarchate had with the Holy Father this morning in the Vatican. For the prelate, the visit shows "Francis's great humility". After the meeting, the pope surprised the delegation by having lunch with them at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"The audience was very simple," the prelate explained. "The pope first met Mgr Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem, in private. He then listened to each one of us, and gave us a rosary."

 "Shortly after we went back to Saint Martha, Pope Francis joined us, and in an informal way, sat down at the table with the entire delegation."

"On our return, we shall tell the faithful in the Holy Land about then pope's great love for the Church that lives and prays in the places where Jesus Christ lived," Mgr Shomali said.

This morning, during the Mass he usual conducts in the chapel of Saint Martha, the pope spoke about the life and Christian testimony of Saint Stephen, the first martyr in the Holy Land.

During their visit, Mgr Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem, and Mgr Shomali were accompanied by Mgr Marcuzzo, auxiliary bishop for Israel; Mgr Laham, auxiliary bishop for Jordan; Fr David Neuhaus, vicar for the Hebrew-speaking community; and Mgr Ilario Antoniazzi, the new archbishop of Tunis.

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