Interview with the Custos | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Interview with the Custos

Catholic Easter and Orthodox Easter... next year the calendars will be joined so that all Christians in the Holy Land can celebrate together the most important feast of the liturgical year. Already this year, some Catholic parishes, both in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, have made this choice.

"The decision to adopt the Julian calendar is a pastoral need, because many families, in fact almost all of them here, are mixed, and so for family reasons they have asked insistently that Easter be celebrated on the same day and not on two different dates. Because of historical and geographical reasons, these choices here in the Holy Land will always be complicated because there is also an international aspect that will be a little uncomfortable, so whatever choice we make there will always some difficulties.”

From the ecumenical to interreligious dialogue, and to the dialogue between believers and nonbelievers... Cardinal Ravasi recently spoke of Jerusalem as a possible starting point for a "Court of the Gentiles" in the Middle East, an event opening the dialogue also with nonbelievers. But is the time ripe for such an event in the Middle East?

"We have to think about how to do it... we have to prepare ourselves well. Here in the Middle East, and particularly in Jerusalem, we are used to having meetings and conferences on everything. The risk is that it would remain an academic conference, and so we must prepare it in its context and its links with the area and the local religious institutions. It should be said that atheism does not work very well here... more than atheism, it’s rather the lack of faith... the religious element is significant here, it’s a determining cultural and social aspect, and so it would undoubtedly have a very different dynamic than other previous meetings. Still, it could be a very important stimulus for reflection, evaluation and encounter between us believers."

We also asked the Custos of the Holy Land for an assessment on the difficult situation in Syria and the news coming from the Franciscans there...

"Honestly, I don’t see any easy solutions on the horizon. The international community cannot do much, I believe that the solutions must be found within the country. The international community - the G8 and G20.... can help to find a solution with pressure, and with all possible peaceful means, but it must be found there, within the country, and I don’t see any in the short term. "

"The news are a bit fragmented ... there is a lot of fear, the economic situation is deteriorating, and this causes a chain reaction. All social life is very affected, very wounded, also creating a situation of distress that does not help."