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Corpus Christi at the Sepulchre: Patriarch Twal, “mercy and forgiveness” for the Middle East

“To overcome violence and the devastating situation that the Middle East has been plunged into, we must follow the path opened by Christ himself: openness, fidelity and courage, and at the same time humility, mercy and reconciliation. Our mission in the Holy Land must lead to a patient and humble understanding, like the grain of wheat that dies to give life: a death that may be sudden or slow in small doses!”. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said this during the Mass he celebrated at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem today, to mark the solemnity of Corpus Christi and the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. “Our mission – he explained in the homily – is to be nourished by the fullness of our faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. This is how God continues to renew humanity, history and the world through this series of transformations of which the Eucharist is the sacrament”. The feast of Corpus Christi, the Patriarch said, “invites us to reflect on our responsibility in building a caring, just and familial society. In our particular time, when globalization makes us more dependent upon each other, in our time when the Church is target of attacks, political persecution and religious extremism, Corpus Christi must make us one body, one Church strengthened by faith in God and solidarity among ourselves”. The Church of Jerusalem, Patriarch Twal continued, has two inseparable dimensions: “It is a Church of Calvary and a Church of the Resurrection. The stairs going up to Calvary are steep and difficult as we experience; but every step is a step of hope that brings us closer to the joy of the Resurrection. Together, we move forward, and after this long pilgrimage, Christ himself awaits us, to welcome us”. At the end, Patriarch Twal gave thanks to God for the gift of his priestly ordination, acknowledging he is now approaching the end of his mandate: “I can humbly say that the mission entrusted to me is fulfilled, and I now commend my future into God’s hands. I give thanks for all the years in direct service of the Holy Father and the Mother Church of Jerusalem”. The Patriarch also gave thanks for “all my vicars, priests, pastors, men and women religious and the many, many friends far and wide, who accompanied and supported me during my mission. I ask our Nuncio to convey to the Holy Father my filial love and expression of affiliation to the universal Church, and gratitude for his paternal care for the Holy Land and for the Christians of the Middle East”.

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