Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
ACN, Montreal, November 21, 2013 – At the conclusion of the Year of Faith in the Holy Land, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, expressed his satisfaction. On Sunday he told the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) in Nazareth (Israel): “It has been a time of grace. Of course the passing on of faith will not end with this year, but will hopefully be continued with greater fervour. We are therefore very grateful to Pope Benedict XVI for his initiative in instituting the Year of Faith.”
The Patriarch also expressed his joy that believers from the Palestinian territories and Jordan had been able to attend the Holy Mass on Sunday in Nazareth at the conclusion of the Year of Faith. “I hope they will be taking many stimulating thoughts home with them after this beautiful event.” At the solemn divine service conducted in the open more than 7,000 believers from the Holy Land, the adjacent countries and all over the world had gathered. According to the Israeli ministry of tourism about 1,000 pilgrims had come from overseas.
In response to a question from “Aid to the Church in Need” concerning the date for Pope Francis’ planned visit to the Holy Land next year, the Patriarch said: “It’s certain that he will be coming but not when. We have to wait and see.” Pope Francis had been invited by Patriarch Twal, by the President of Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. He had accepted these invitations for 2014. Observers assume that the visit could take place in the first half of the year because the term of office of Israel’s President Shimon Peres ends July 2014. Accordingly a date between March and May is seen as probable.