On Friday, February 5, 2021, His Beatitude Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, met virtually for the first time with members of the Coordinating Catholic Aid Organizations (CCAO) since his appointment as Latin Patriarch in order to restart the work of the committee which was on hold for a few months.
At the beginning of the meeting the CCAO Chair Mr. Tony Khashram congratulated His Beatitude on his appointment and thanked the Holy Father for his choice, as Patriarch Pizzaballa is no stranger to the Holy Land where he has been serving with distinction for over 30 years in various capacities. He further wished him the best of luck in his new mission (including his role as President of CCAO) and pledged the support of all members.
His Beatitude from his part briefed the committee that his main task and focus, during the past four years as Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, was the financial and administrative restructuring of the Latin Patriarchate. He emphasized that it was time, as the new Patriarch of Jerusalem, to be of service to the broader Church of the Holy Land and concentrate more on the pastoral life of the Church. He further expressed keen interest to work more closely with the various members, to listen to them, and to develop joint interventions together with greater coordination in order to serve the local communities in a more efficient way away from duplication and competition. He stressed that even though the pandemic would be behind us soon, its effects would continue to be with us for a long time, and thus stressed the need for a more coordinated response.
As President of the CCAO, he expressed his willingness to take a more active role in the coming period and to help bring focus to the work of the committee and set clear priorities in light of the weakened financial situation of practically all institutions as a result of the pandemic, and the need to rationalize and prioritize the work in light of reduced budgets. In a particular way, he stressed the need to devote extra efforts in the Bethlehem District, hard hit with unemployment as a result of the absence of tourists and pilgrims; on East Jerusalem as many families continue to face severe social, political and economic difficulties; and on Gaza given the continued siege.
At the conclusion of the meeting, His Beatitude urged members to focus on better coordination and joint work amongst themselves and closed the meeting by thanking all members for their dedicated and committed services over the past few months operating under extremely challenging conditions of the pandemic for the benefit of the Church and the local community.