The visit by H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The visit by H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

St. Saviour’s Convent, Jerusalem, 22nd May 2012

After about eighteen months, H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and President of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, who had been preceded in both positions by H. E. Cardinal Walter Kasper, has returned to the Holy Land and visited the Franciscan Custody.

Cardinal Koch was received by the Custos of the Holy Land, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa, by the Custodial Vicar, Brother Artemio Vitores, by the General Secretary Brother Silvio De La Fuente and by many members of the local Franciscan community, from the Discreets of the Holy Land to the group of the youngest friars, at the Divan of St. Saviour’s Convent. Introduced by the words of welcome of the Custos, in a climate of fraternal joy, Cardinal Koch expressed in simple and warm words how close he felt to these very important places of Christian history and tradition, with which he feels a special bond due to his continuous commitment over the years for ecumenism and dialogue with the Jewish world. It is in these same places that the Franciscans tirelessly carry on their precious work of protection, promotion and development, for local Christians and for the benefit of the whole Church which has its roots and the heart of its faith here.

The evening continued with the recital of Vespers and came to an end with the community dinner, in the Convent refectory, which gave this special occasion a touch of delicate cordiality.

Cardinal Koch is a leading figure, highly esteemed and widely appreciated, especially for his intense work for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue which continues the important legacy left in this field by Cardinal Kasper, especially regarding the encounter between Christians and Jews, promoting reciprocal respect and understanding, as well as the common responsibility in seeking the best and most respectable solutions for the many ethical and social problems of our time. He is also attentive and sensitive to the difficulties and the expectations of the Holy Land, which, with this new visit, he affectionately embraced on behalf of the Church, an embrace between Rome and Jerusalem.

by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Marie Armelle Beaulieu