Farewell reception for Mgr. Sambi

The Custody of the Holy Land and the Latin Parish of Jerusalem have invited to attend a farewell reception for the Nuncio and Apostolic Delegate, His Excellency Mgr. Pietro Sambi. The reception was held on Wednesday January 4th at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. Hereby is the speech given by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land.

Our dearest Archbishop, I am honoured to express the gratitude on behalf of all of us gathered here, and to extend to you our congratulations for your pontifical nomination as Apostolic Nuncio in the United States of America. This new commitment marks the end of your mandate as Nuncio in Israel and as Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine. You have carried out this mandate since 1998. This means that you have been among us for seven and a half years. This was a useful time to understand the complex reality of these two Peoples who are brothers and yet divided, of this City which is the mother of Nations, of this multi-coloured Christian presence, of this Church which here renders witness to the care of the universal Church, to the paternal solicitude of the Pope and to the particular attention of the Vatican.

We would like to thank you, with a sense of affection and gratitude. We would like you to carry in your heart, together with the love you show for this Holy Land which has certainly taken deep roots in your soul, the sense of our gratitude and of our affection. This has grown and become stronger during these years, and has created a Friendship which has helped us to search always for that communion of purpose which constitutes the profound sense of our friendly relationship.
You have lived with us beautiful and intense years (I am thinking of the Jubilee and the visit of John Paul II). At the same time these were difficult years, the years of the second Intifada. You have bowed down to look at the wounds which have marked Jerusalem with the blood of the attacks of these last years. You have been a spokesman to the Palestinian people and to the local Christians, particularly during the difficult years of the war, of the construction of the wall of separation. Together with us you have trembled and hoped for a peace which seemed impossible, you have dared to show hope in times of desperation. We are certain that you are still with us in the hope that this new year will truly mark the launching of hard-working and fruitful days of dialogue and or more operative agreements along the way of peace.

This Land has seen the succession of so many Apostolic Delegates who have worked for peace. The Nuncio and Delegate Pietro Sambi has been among us a man of peace, he has worked for peace, he has desired peace with a firm hope, he has built peace with humility and with a strong will, he has exalted peace and prayed for peace. It is certainly peace for this Land, but it is also peace between the diverse Christian communities who live here side by side, who express and manifest the infinite dream of the following of the one and only Saviour. It is also the peace among Catholics, who although being a minority presence, are all equally desiring to live in this Land, and here they express and manifest the infinite fantasy of their being part of the Church. Thank you, because you have known how to remind one and all to raise their thoughts to sublime realities, to the Word which never changes, to the unity of faith, to the primacy of love.

Thank you for always having tried to “gather us” together, for levelling-out difficulties, for building trust, for fostering a sense of brotherhood, for having a particular love for Friendship, and for making us all journey along the toilsome and joyful road of fraternal communion.
Thank you for having accompanied our Church to celebrate with profound interiority the Jubilee of the year 2000, encouraging and following with a delicate attention the proceedings of the Diocesan Synod. Thank you with all our hearts for having sustained the footsteps of this Church during the joyful journey of the Pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II which, as Franciscans, we remember with profound affection for the devout homage and admiration which he showed towards the Holy Places of which we are the Custodians. The “journey” of the Jubilee to the roots of faith and of the Church, has been an event of grace not only for the Pope who desired it so ardently, but for all of us.

We hope that it has deeply touched the hearts of those who took part in it, of those who worked for it, and the hearts of our people, who have felt “privileged” by this Visit.
Thank you, therefore, for having lived in our beloved Holy Land an experience which we would like you to remember always, and to unite with the great affection which we want to show you and which enriches the patrimony of our Tradition, by building the basis of good will and collaboration which the Custody of the Holy Land can offer to the Church, through the new Nuncio and Delegate.

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land