By editor - 16 September, 2016
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has urged the Christians of the Holy Land to keep on hoping and keep on working for reconciliation.
In his address to Bishop William Hanna Shomali, auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Primate of All Ireland said conflict and injustice have taken a toll on Jerusalem and on its residents.
“We want to join our voices, as people of Ireland, to those speaking up and working for peace,” Archbishop Martin said as he thanked Bishop Shomali and the Catholic Church of the Holy Land for their “tireless efforts and pleas for peace, justice and mutual understanding”.
He also described the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the visible face of the Church in the Holy Land.
“We have already heard a lot this week about the ministry of the Patriarchate in ensuring that the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to shine forth in and from the Holy Land today,” the Archbishop commented.
Elsewhere, he noted that people say that Jerusalem is the only city that exists twice: the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem.
“Our Way of the Cross and celebration of the Eucharist at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre this morning have been deeply moving experiences for our pilgrims – which have given us a glimpse of both the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem!,” he said.
He reminded Bishop Shomali that an important focus of the Irish pilgrims’ visit has been to offer solidarity with the Christian community – those who are descended from the first people to hear the message of Jesus.
“To meet with you and your people, to hear about your joys, your struggles and your pain stories, and then to communicate these messages back to our parishes, communities and families in Ireland, that is what makes this a pilgrimage of Christian solidarity.”
“We wish to express that solidarity with you today, Bishop Shomali, and with all at the Latin Patriarchate, and through you to the People of God you serve. You are courageously taking up the challenge to witness to the Gospel values of justice and peace.”
Archbishop Eamon Martin said paid tribute to some of the outreach programmes and good works which operate under the patronage of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
He urged the bishop to tell the Irish contingent more about their work in parishes, schools and universities and to suggest ways in which they could help promote awareness and practical outreach when they returned to Ireland.
“We will leave Jerusalem physically exhausted but spiritually refreshed and renewed, especially for the remainder of this Jubilee Year of Mercy and beyond,” Dr Martin said.
“We are conscious that our pilgrimage does not end when we return home. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us during his own pilgrimage to the Holy Land “no individual, family, community or nation is exempt from the duty to live in justice and to work for peace.”
“That is our challenge! We look forward to hearing more about this from you Bishop Shomali and we thank you once more for your gracious welcome to Jerusalem.”