Following is the text of the welcome address delivered by Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Bishop William Shomali on January 7, marking the first official visit by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa:
“Blessed is who comes in the name of the Lord”. This was our first exclamation when we knew about your nomination as the tenth Patriarch of Jerusalem by Pope Francis.
The word “blessed” is translated in Arabic as Mubarak and in dialect it is Mabrouk, a word that you heard very often. So, allow us Beatitude, in the name of all the persons here present: bishops, clergy, priests and deacons, representatives of religious congregations, consecrated women, representatives of the Priests’ council, the ecclesiastical court, schools administration, financial department, faithful from different parishes, caritas and all the charity activities, our catholic media, the catholic youth and scouts, the choirs and altar boys and girls, in their name we express our sincere Mabrouk and are happy that you could come for your first visit as Patriarch. Your Beatitude comes to the part of the diocese which has the highest number of Latin faithful, the highest number of and parishes and schools, and the highest number of the LP priests. Therefore, it deserves a special attention, and we hope that your visits will increase.
You come after one year of absence due to Covid-19, of which yourself and the third of the clergy fell victims in the last weeks. It was a terrible experience for the diocese, and we thank the Lord who helped us to overcome it. We hope this painful experience would give us strong immunity and stronger spirituality.
Despite Covid-19, the contacts between you and this part of the diocese continued during the last year. You used to send us your weekly homily to sustain our spiritual life, you continued to send letters and instructions especially for the Holy Week. You met the clergy more than once on zoom. Practically, through whatsups and emails, the daily contact with priests never stopped.
We know the heavy daily program you had as administrator and which, probably, will not decrease as Patriarch.
Saint Augustin described his own daily duties as Bishop: “The turbulent people have to be corrected, the faint-hearted cheered up, the weak supported; the Gospel's opponents need to be refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed to be liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved. The Gospel terrifies me, concludes Augustin.” To these tasks we can also add the destruction of barriers which prevent the growth of the church.
To face these duties, you had chosen the logo: my grace is sufficient for you. The clergy in Jordan is ready to continue to collaborate for the continuous building of “the Church who is or should go back to being a community of God's people, and priests, pastors and bishops, who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.” Pope Francis.
you start your mission in difficult times for all the world and not less for the diocese. Covid-19 created a new situation on educational, financial and employment sector. The challenge is a heavy cross. Well carried, this cross will become our strength and a source of blessings for the church. Again, I am quoting Pope Francis:
“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord”.
We heard your homily on the first day of the year. It described the situation of our church today and can be considered a short road map for the future.
You spoke about the presence in the church of different barriers which are more difficult than the political and geographical barriers because they can hinder our ecclesial journey. You spoke about the barriers between Clergy and Laity, between different generations that you called Generational gap, and the barrier between the Local and the foreign dimension of the church, and the language barriers. We know there are other barriers, and we should collaborate to bring them down and to build the real community of faithful.
Your Beatitude, dear brothers, and sisters,
May Mary of Nazareth, patron of this parish church of Sweifieh protect you and our church in Jordan. May she protect our king and this country where we feel free and safe to practice our faith. When you will meet His Majesty on the coming days, please tell him that we pray often for him and the prosperity of Jordan.
Beatitude, we repeat what we started with: “Blessed is who comes in the name of the Lord”.