03/29/2024, 12.08
Send to a friend

Fr. Patton: Good Friday Collection and Easter with few pilgrims for war

by Dario Salvi

The Custos of the Holy Land speaks to AsiaNews: the Palestinian issue is a long unresolved problem that must be addressed "with realism". The UN vote on the truce has a "moral value", but we need the "courage" to recognise and legitimise ourselves. The Roman centurion "an example of mature faith". The Collection is a "special communion" and fundamental resource today, with a thought for all persecuted Christians in the world. 


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The "Palestinian question" seemed "forgotten", overshadowed by other global emergencies or relegated to the margins of the international agenda, and the "Abraham Accords" themselves signed by Israel with part of the Arab world appeared as "a strategy to remove it."

However, the news events of recent months [from the Hamas terrorist attack on 7 October to the war launched by the Jewish state in Gaza] show that "it cannot be removed, but must be resolved". This is what the Custodian of the Holy Land, Friar Francesco Patton, underlines to AsiaNews on the occasion of Good Friday. He maintains it is useless, as well as impossible, "to pretend that the problem doesn't exist: on the contrary, it must be faced with realism, it requires a solution of a political nature, with recognition of the full dignity and right to existence of the Palestinian people."

On the level of international diplomacy, a significant, although not decisive, step was recorded in recent days at the UN Security Council with the US abstention which allowed the approval (14 votes in favour) of the resolution on the ceasefire in Gaza.

The decision, explains the Custodian, is only inportant as long as it is "not only on paper" despite knowing that "many resolutions do not have much practical follow-up" but have a "moral value" in line with the directives of the international community which is pushing for a truce.

“And after the truce, peace - he continues - to facilitate a political solution to the conflict” which leads “to the birth of a State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel: both - he states - must have the courage to recognize the other as legitimate and with the right to exist."

Meanwhile, the Christians of the Holy Land live the "unique" experience of Easter in the "places" where Christ was born, experiencing firsthand "the various mysteries: we don't need imagination - says Fr. Patton - for Palm Sunday, Monday in Bethany where Mary sprinkles oil on the feet of Jesus, then the Cenacle on Thursday and the Via Crucis" today.

“Experiencing Easter in Jerusalem - he continues - is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the historical dimension of Christianity” and to affirm that “our faith is not based on a myth, but on the testimony of those who met him resurrected. For us this is a unique opportunity to renew our faith, which is the only and greatest hope we have: if he has risen, evil is not the last word."

The Custodian of the Holy Land continues that too often teh ressurrection is understood as "resuscitation, but it would be a going back while, on the contrary, it means moving forward and bringing our humanity to God".

He adds, this "takes us away from the miseries of history" and is more relevant today than ever in a world plagued by violence, conflicts and devastation. The time that separates from the resurrection of Jesus to the birth of the Church, until his return "is a time of struggle and trial, we cannot delude ourselves that it is a paradise on earth", during which "we experience plagues, wars, pandemics, crises ecological and economic".

Today becomes "an opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of the only man who makes a mature profession of faith, the Roman centurion, who, seeing Jesus die on the cross as noted in the Gospel of Mark - explains the Custos - affirms that he is truly a son of God". And he recognizes him, he adds, "not because he sees him resurrected, but because of how he sees him dying, taking upon himself human solitude and transforming it into an act of abandonment".

Good Friday is also an opportunity to remember the "Collecta pro Locis Sanctis", born from the desire of the pontiffs to maintain a strong bond between Christians in the world and the holy places.

“It is important - he confirms - because it is not a collection based on an emergency, for an earthquake or a flood, but expresses, as established by Paul VI in 1974, the communion between the universal Church and the Church of Jerusalem through the Custody of the Holy Land” . It represents a "special communion" through the economic aspect and is "even more important in this phase in which there is a lack of pilgrims for the war".

They are fundamental resources, says Fr. Patton, "to carry out social activities and schools in a phase in which families have no money due to lack of work" due to the crisis in religious tourism. “The collection is a concrete and orderly tool, because it allows for annual reporting of projects and works from a perspective of transparency”.

Finally, the Custos returns to the theme of the pilgrims who "are not totally absent, some also showed up for Palm Sunday but it remains a sad Easter. Our brothers in Gaza are experiencing a prolonged Good Friday - he explains - and are reduced to hunger, they can only cook something hot once or twice a week: an unbelievable situation.justifiable, but who manage to live with a faith that puts us all to shame, publicly declaring that their home is the Church and their only certainty is Jesus."

“On the other hand, their testimony encourages us to be more coherent, to experience a difficult Easter for everyone, especially in the West Bank, in Bethlehem, without tourists and without work, but with a participation that is stronger than usual, as we have already seen at Christmas . It is as if they felt - he underlines - that in a tragic context faith must make a leap in quality and we cling to Christ".

He asks Christians in the West to "look to the Holy Land" where there is a "Mother Church in difficulty. What we experience - he concludes - is what the majority of Christians in the world experience, from Africa to Asia passing through Latin America: they are suffering, they do not live on privileges, with the only difference that we are under the spotlight of information”.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Synod for the Amazon: Card Stella hails the ‘great beauty’ of celibacy in a priest’s life
24/10/2019 17:56
For Fr Tom, abducted in Yemen, Holy Thursday prayer and adoration for the martyrs
21/03/2016 14:57
Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang rise as Cold War fears cast a shadow over Korea
12/02/2016 15:14
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”