Pope ends pilgrimage with religious and bishops
JERUSALEM – Before returning to Italy, the Pope took the time to meet the religious of the Holy Land at the Basilica of Gethsemane, and later celebrated a private Mass with the Catholic bishops in the holy place of the Cenacle.
In the Basilica of All Nations, more than 400 religious and especially religious assembled to hear the message that Pope Francis was devoted particularly to them. It was hosted by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, who became the spokesperson for the many religious to express their sense of abandonment. “We urge the Christian world and our brother bishops for a greater closeness and solidarity and a sense of belonging to our mother Church,” he has said.
In a short speech, the Holy Father urged the religious not to be overcome by fear. While recognizing the difficulties of Christians in Jerusalem, particularly religious, the Pope called each to be “courageous witnesses of his Passion and Resurrection.”
Just outside of the basilica, he planted an olive tree next to the one planted by Paul VI there 50 years amid old olive trees that have probably witnessed the agony of Christ 2000 years ago .
Mass in the Cenacle
Pope Francis desired to celebrate Mass in the Cenacle only with the bishops. But this gesture assumed political overtones, even if it was not an initial idea. The room would have housed the Upper Room Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. But the dispute – not always friendly and peaceful – over the site stems from the fact that the Jews asssert their ownership of it due to its proximity to the tomb of David, the Muslims because they have had a mosque there for many years, and the Christians who do not ask much, just to be able to celebrate Mass and pray several times a week. In the present of the Pope, the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, spoke of “a much wounded place”
However, these points of tension were not the subject of the sermon which focused on key Christian values taught by the gesture of Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples, and became a servant of the Apostles and the Church. Pope Francis asked the bishops to remember everything that the Last Supper recalls: service, sacrifice, friendship, sharing, harmony, brotherhood, peace, and family dimension of the Church after the announcement of the resurrection.
A Mass full of emotion smoothly completed the pilgrimage. The Pope tired and fatigued after three days of travel, meetings and speeches, showed up at the airport at 20:15 to head back to the Vatican with all of his delegation. Many people can breathe a sigh of relief, but there remains the need to gather fruit from what was sown. And there will some good fruit.
Pierre Loup de Raucourt