Jerusalem Prelate Urges Leaders to be Courageous

Reflects on Ministry Ahead of Installment as Patriarch

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JERUSALEM, JUNE 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Just a few days before his installation as the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal is inviting political leaders of the area to have "more courage and less fear."



Archbishop Twal, 67, is set to be installed as patriarch June 22. He will succeed Archbishop Michel Sabbah, 75, who has retired after more than 20 years of service in the position.

Archbishop Twal spoke with L'Osservatore Romano about his hopes and plans for this new ministry. "We believe in the power of prayer," he said, "We entrust these times to the Lord and we again place our hopes in the political leaders of this land, but also in the international leaders, and we ask them to have more courage and less fear, and above all that they place trust in each other."

"Reciprocal trust is needed to build solid relationships," the archbishop affirmed.

The Jordan-born prelate acknowledged that "there are groups and people who do not desire peace"; but he added, "We hope that good will prevails for the good, security and peace for all."

Archbishop Twal said that no region will be able to enjoy peace by itself, since "it is a gift for everyone." Along this line, he urged "building up and sustaining the moderates, because as they get more help, the extremists will have less strength."

For his part, Archbishop Sabbah celebrated his last Mass as patriarch for the Jerusalem Hebrew-speaking Catholic community on June 1.

In his farewell greeting to the patriarch, the vicar for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, recalled how Archbishop Sabbah was the first patriarch of Jerusalem to celebrate Mass in Hebrew.

The archbishop told the Hebrew-speaking Catholics: "What is our place in the Church of Jerusalem, among the 13 churches of which she is constituted? It is a place primarily of prayer. Our prayer is the prayer of Jesus for unity. […] We must pray for unity so that, even before the longed for unity is reached, by means of our love for one another, we might be what we are called to become. This is indeed our vocation: to be true witnesses to Jesus Christ."