Pope Francis encourages the Custody of the Holy Land to transmit “the fifth gospel”

Dear brothers and sisters, hello !

[Pardonnez-moi si je reste assis, mais j’ai très mal à la jambe aujourd’hui… J’ai très mal si je reste debout. Comme cela, c’est mieux pour moi.]

I welcome you on the occasion of the centenary of the magazine The Holy Land. I thank the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Francesco Patton, OFM, for his introductory words. And I greet you with gratitude, all of you who work on the editing of the journal in the various language editions and for the Terra Santa Editions ; as well as all those who take care of the websites and social networks and all the collaborators of the Christian Media Center. The service you perform today is in line with the communicative intuition that guided Custos Ferdinando Diotallevi a hundred years ago, and consists – as he himself wrote in the first issue of the journal – in “to make the Holy Land, the Land of God, the cradle of Christianity, the venerable sanctuaries where the Redemption of the human race was realized, better known”.

Making the Holy Land known means transmitting the “fifth gospel”, that is to say the historical and geographical environment in which the Word of God was revealed and then became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, for us and for our salvation. It also means making known the people who live there today, the life of Christians of different Churches and denominations, but also that of Jews and Muslims, to try to build, in a complex and difficult context like that of the Middle East , a fraternal society.

Communication, in the age of social networks, must contribute to building communities, better still, fraternity (1). I encourage you to tell of the fraternity that is possible: that between Christians of Churches and confessions unfortunately still separated, but which, in the Holy Land, are often already close to unity, as I myself had the opportunity to see it. To tell of the possible fraternity between all the children of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Telling about the ecclesial fraternity that opens up to migrants, displaced persons and refugees, to restore to them the dignity of which they were deprived when they had to leave their country in search of a future for themselves and their children. Tell this reality.

I thank you because, to tell the Holy Land, you strive to meet people where and as they are (2). Indeed, to write your reports, your investigations and your publications, you do not limit yourselves to the quieter territories, but you also go to the most difficult and painful realities, such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Gaza. I know that you strive to present the stories of good, those of active resistance to the evils of war, those of reconciliation, those of restoring the dignity of children whose childhood was stolen, those of refugees with their tragedies, but also with their dreams and hopes. Thank you, because to do – thus your work, you did not spare the sole of your shoes, and I know that you will not spare them either in the future to be able to tell all this.

Indeed, to communicate a determined reality, nothing can completely replace personal experience, the fact of living on the spot. And you live and work in the very place where the Word of God, his message of salvation became flesh and could be “encountered” in Jesus Christ, not only in his words, but in his eyes, in his voice. , in his gestures (3).

The force of attraction of Jesus “depended on the truth of his preaching, but the effectiveness of what he said was inseparable from his gaze, his behavior, and even his silences. The disciples not only listened to his words, but they watched him speak. Indeed, in him – the incarnate Logos – the Word became face, the invisible God let himself be seen, heard and touched (…) (cf. 1 Jn 1, 1-3). Speech is effective only if it is “seen”, if it makes us participate in an experience, in a dialogue” (4)

Dear communicators of the Custody of the Holy Land, you are called to make known what the Synod on the Word of God (2008), then Pope Benedict XVI, called the “fifth gospel”, that is to say the Land where the history and geography of salvation meet and allow a new reading of the biblical text, in particular of the Gospel texts. There, “we can see and even touch the reality of the history that God has made with men. Starting with the places of Abraham’s life to the places of Jesus’ life, from the incarnation to the empty tomb, a sign of his resurrection. Yes, God entered this earth, he acted with us in this world” (5). And the paschal mystery also illuminates and gives meaning to today’s history, to the path of the populations who live on this earth today, a path marked unfortunately by wounds and conflicts even today, but that God’s grace always opens up hope, a hope of brotherhood and peace (6). In this sense also, in recounting the Holy Land, you are recounting the “fifth gospel”, the one that God continues to write in history.

Through the means of social communication, you can enrich the faith of many people, even those who do not have the possibility of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Places. You do this through your professional commitment, carried out competently every day in the service of the Gospel. This is valuable for believers all over the world and at the same time it supports Christians living in the Land of Jesus. And I would like to take this opportunity to express my closeness to them. I always remember them, even in prayer. Please, as you return home, bring my greetings and blessings to the families and Christian communities of the Holy Land.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the providence of the Lord and the protection of the Blessed Virgin always accompany you in your activity. I wholeheartedly impart my blessing to all of you and to your other collaborators who were unable to come. And I ask you, from the Holy Land, a prayer also for me. Thank you !


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