The Christian Information Center (CIC) celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its inauguration on 22nd and 23rd May. Celebratory events in which the history of the Center and of the building that houses it was revisited were held over these two days. It is a history that speaks of service and dialogue, of assistance for pilgrims and “Christian formation and information” over half a century.
The double appointment, at the head office of the CIC in Jerusalem, allowed holding the ceremony in two different languages: on Tuesday 22nd in English and on Wednesday 23rd in Italian. Both were attended by the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, who welcomed the guests. The speakers included the Director of the CIC, Fr. Giorgio Kray, the director’s assistant, Sr. Naomi Zibermann, the lecturer in History of the Church and of the Custody of the Holy Land at the SBF, Fr. Narcyz Klimas and the former director of the Center, Fr. Tomasz Dubiel.
The students of the "Magnificat" music school, led by the director of the Institute and the Secretary of the Holy Land, Fr. Alberto Joan Pari, and by the deputy director Giuliana Mettini, entertained the guests during the two events, with performances of singing and playing musical instruments.
The Christian Information Center was founded in 1973 to help pilgrims who came to Jerusalem and provide them with information on Christianity in the Holy Land.
The Custody of the Holy Land had the intuition to purchase the property many years earlier and use it for activities of Christian formation and information. Considering its strategic location near the main entrance to the Christian Quarter of the city, i.e. the Jaffa Gate, the CIC has always been a point of reference for pilgrims.
In the various voices that were heard over these past few days, the ecumenical and interreligious vocation of the Center was stressed. The CIC aims to provide all the Christian churches with a complete information service, nurturing the ambition to be a “bridge” between all the Christian denominations in the Holy Land.
The activity of the Christian Information Center today
Today the activity of the Center is divided into three fronts: it offers a service of immediate information to pilgrims, tourists and residents, with a permanent helpful and competent staff; it provides the mass media, scholars and religious communities with information on the various religious, scientific and cultural events, or simply on Christian life in the Holy Land, and it offers its premises to different local organizations for ecumenical meetings, personal meetings or other religious and cultural events.
These activities and services have been possible for fifty years thanks to the proximity of the Christian Information Center to the various local organizations and its ambition to foster newer and better relations: "We are linked to service for pilgrims but also to the local community. It is not possible to live here and perform a real service if a dialogue is not established first with those who are here. This dialogue has to have its foundations in upholding the human values of each person and in the respect of the religious identity of each individual. We never ask the people who come here questions about themselves, but we welcome everyone,” said Fr. Giorgio Kray in his address to the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. The Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, Mons, PierbattistaPizzaballa and the Apostolic Nuncio for Israel and the Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, Mons. Tito Yllana, amongst others, were also present at the meeting on Wednesday 24th.
Looking towards the future of the Christian Information Center
After having retraced the history of the Center and the presentation of the "Experience of Resurrection" (a multimedia installation in the premises of the CIC which was inaugurated in summer 2022), the last 50 years of activity were summed up through statistics, quotations and experiences. Looking towards the future, Father Kray concluded at the end: "I hope that the Christian Information Center can continue to remain a beacon of hope and unity for all the Churches which find the origin of their faith here and that it can also be a source of dialogue and reconciliation at interreligious and social level for Jews, Christians and Muslims in this holy city."
Filippo De Grazia