Bishop Shomali : “Canonization is a cause of hope for local Christians”
HOLY LAND – On Sunday, May 17, Pope Francis canonized two Palestinian nuns, Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Mariam Baouardy. Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, expressed in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), his hope for the Holy Land and the Universal Church.
“The canonization of two Palestinian nuns Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghatas and Blessed Mariam Bawardi is a cause of hope for Christians of the Holy Land, said Bishop Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, in a recent interview with ACN (Aid to the Church in Need). “The new saints of Palestinian birth make sainthood obvious. St. Marie Alphonsine was characterized for her tremendous humility. St. Mariam led a life of intensive prayer and devotion. When we read the life of the new saints, we are encouraged to emulate them. It is indeed a great source of encouragement for our Christians here. It also enhances the image of our people showing that we can produce saints – not just terrorists.” that produces saints, not only terrorists”.
The bishop reported that more than 2000 pilgrims from Israel, Palestine and Lebanon took part in the ceremony in Rome, most prominent among them Palestinian President. “The canonization is first and foremost a spiritual event,” said the prelate, “but when our president heard of the canonization of two Palestinian women, he expressed the wish to travel to Rome. He is a friend of Pope Francis.
“This also has a political dimension. The name of Palestine will appear in the media. Some people will carry the flag. We have no objection to this. But we cannot reduce the event to its political significance. It is first and foremost a spiritual happening.”
Bishop Shomali stressed the importance of two new saints coming from the Middle East. “Many Saints come from Europe and America. We have not had so many coming from the Middle East in recent times. But these two come from the Holy Land, which is revered by Christians from across the globe. Their tombs will now be two more holy sites in the Holy Land.”
There are enormous benefits for the Universal Church, the Bishop added: “the two Saints from Palestine belong to the whole Church. One of the healing miracles that led to the canonization of the Blessed Mariam took place in Syracuse, in Sicily. After a novena a child was completely delivered from a heart condition in an inexplicable way. The child will take part in the Holy Mass. This shows that the new saints are intercessors not only for the Holy Land, but for the world Church as a whole.”
Bishop Shomali expressed hope that the canonizations are a sign pointing to a better year for the Holy Land. “It is my hope that, not least due to the canonizations, 2015 will be a better year than 2014 with the war in Gaza and the unrest in Jerusalem.
“But we shouldn’t see everything in black and white. There were also positive events last year. The Holy Father visited the Holy Land. In 2014 Egypt’s President el-Sisi won the elections. The Copts were happy about this. The anti-ISIS coalition was also established, even if it has not enjoyed any major victory so far. But perhaps the bad has outweighed the good. We hope that the reverse will be the case this year. We pray for this—in particular for the wellbeing of Christians in Syria and Iraq. The Lord is the master of history. He can change its course.”
Source : ACN (Aid to the Church in Need)