February 14, 2013
We publish the letter of the Assembly Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land expressing gratitude and affection for Pope Benedict XVI.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Vatican City
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land bow before the decision you have taken to renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, surrendering yourself to the will of God in all freedom. We assure you of our prayers and support of your action.
The news of your decision has traveled to the Holy Land in a flash, initially prompting disbelief and amazement, and then saluting an act of courage and faith. On our knees like Jesus in Gethsemane, we repeat with you: Father, not my will, but yours.
The Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land express the gratitude of all the people of Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus, of all the faithful who live here, Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze. All Christians – Catholic, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, and especially the faithful of our dioceses and eparchies carry you in their hearts.
We are grateful for your visits in May 2009 and June 2010 to the countries that make up geographically the Holy Land. Having met the believers of the other monotheistic religions, you urgently inviting them to live in love for each other and in harmony with one another. You invited us to not be afraid to walk in freedom and truth on the paths through the narrow gate that lead to a culture of peace, built with true gestures of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation of hearts.
With our faithful, we are filled with gratitude as you have encouraged us at the Cenacle, to be lighted candles that with faith and fervor illuminate the holy places. We are also grateful for your strongly encouragement for us to be a bridge of dialogue and constructive cooperation, especially when our steps come upon the walls and when the big open horizons are blocked by the height of these same walls.
It will be difficult to forget your true faith, your “sentire cum Ecclesia,” your sense of duty made in faithfulness and dedication, your example of intellectual honesty and your great simplicity and profound humility.
We, with the Papal Representatives, request you to please continue to pray for the Holy Land and to bless your people. Be assured that we will always praise and thank the Lord for the gift of having you as Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church.
+ Fouad TWAL Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins President, ACOHL
+ Georgio LINGUA Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan
+ Giuseppe LAZZAROTTO Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus
+ Michel SABBAH Patriarch Emeritus of the Latins
+ Elias CHACOUR Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Akka Vice President, ACOHL
+ Yaser Al-AYYASH Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Petra and Philadelphia
+ Boutros MOUALLEM Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Akka
+ Moussa EL-HAGE Maronite Archbishop of Haifa Maronite Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, Palestine, Jordan
+ Gregoire Pierre MELKI Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch – Jerusalem
+ Joseph Jules ZEREY Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem
+Youssef Antoine SOUEIF Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
+ Maroun LAHHAM Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan
+ Giacinto-Boulos MARCUZZO Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel
+ William SHOMALI Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem
+ Kamal-Hanna BATHISH Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus
+ Selim SAYEGH Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus
+Jean SLEIMAN Latin Archbishop of Baghdad Greek Melkite Apostolic Administrator in Jordan
Rt. Rev. Arch Joseph KELEKIAN Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem and Amman
Very Rev. Pierbattista PIZZABALLA, O.F.M. Custos of the Holy Land
Rev. David NEUHAUS, S.J. Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholic Vicariate
Rev. Raymond MOUSSALLI Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan
Rev. Peter FELET, SCJ Secretary General, ACOHL