The Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem, Rt Rev Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has called for openness as thousands of Christian pilgrims flocked to Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity on Christmas Eve to celebrate at the site where Christians believe Christ was born.
He pointed out that closed borders and doors engender fear and violence.
“I am well aware that we are all victims of a growing sense of insecurity and mistrust,” Pierbattista Pizzaballa said during midnight mass at St. Catherine Church in Bethlehem.
“Hopes of peace too often disappointed, violence in recurrent attacks, so much rhetorical and ineffective speech push us to withdraw, to lock the doors, to set up surveillance systems, to run far away rather than to remain resisting in trust and hope,” said Pizzaballa.
He further made reference to the wars, pain and lack of love flourishing in places like Syria and Iraq while asserting that the Holy Land still keeps to the values of justice, trust and love.
Hundreds, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister Rami Hamdallah along with a number of Palestinian officials and guests gathered at St Catherine Church in the Nativity to worship the midnight mass.
The holy father invited his audience to cross the threshold and to come out of their enclosures and have the courage to set aside special interests, “and to look at the other as a brother, in the full liberty of the children of God, stripping ourselves of all violence, oppression and arrogance.”