06/04/2004, 00.00
ISRAEL- PALESTINE - HOLY LAND
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Palestinians receive new Custos in Bethlehem

Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – By entering this morning into Bethlehem, the new Custos put in end to settlement rites. Fr. Pizzaballa left Old City of Jerusalem with an entourage of about 30 cars. They continued through the checkpoint: there weren't any problems. Then the entourage stopped at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, and there he met the parish priest of the Latin community and the notables of the Latin community. He goes to Major Square and there the Custos met the Governor and the Mayor, and by other political and civil personalities.

Franciscans escorted the Custos into the Basilica of the Nativity and into St. Catherine's Church. There the Ceremony of Reception takes place, and then there were prayers.

The Custos made a speech in which  thanked the civil and religious authorities for participating. Also the Greeks and the Armenians were present. He also told the people that he was aware of all the difficulties that are happening in Bethlehem, for example the economic situation caused by the political events. He said: "The Custos will remain faithful to supporting in solidarity the people of Bethlehem, and especially the Christian community".

The Custos will stay in Bethlehem today and will return to Jerusalem tomorrow.

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