Patriarch Twal Visits Kehilla in Jerusalem

Profanation of Greek-Orthodox Monastery Decried

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ROME, FEB. 9, 2012 ( Last Saturday for the first time since he became Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal visited the Kehilla, namely, the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community of the Holy City.

The Patriarch celebrated Mass in the chapel of Saint Simeon and Saint Anna, where the Catholic Hebrew community gathers. He also consecrated the chapel’s new altar, reported the Patriarchate’s Web site on Monday.

Patriarch Twal, who had visited the community back in 2007, when he was still the coadjutor bishop of the Patriarchate, was invited to celebrate Mass for the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, which is also the feast of the parish. As the Patriarchate’s site explains, Simeon and Anna were awaiting the Messiah and recognized him in the child brought to the Temple by Mary and Joseph.

The new altar, made by master carpenters Yona and Stas, was paid for by the Swiss Frick family. The Mass over which the Patriarch presided was celebrated in French and Arabic, while the faithful answered either in Arabic or Hebrew.

Among some 20 concelebrants were also the vicar of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Hebrew-speaking Catholics, Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, and the vice-chancellor of the Patriarchate, Father Marcelo Gallardo.

In his homily, delivered in French and translated into Hebrew, Patriarch Twal reflected on Simeon and Anna, as presented by the Evangelist Luke (2:25-38), and he also spoke of recent events in the life of the Church, including the 2010 Synod on the Middle East and the Synod on the New Evangelization, which will be held in Rome this October.

Meanwhile, from Jerusalem a communiqué from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land condemned «the acts of profanation and the writings on the Greek-Orthodox monastery of Jerusalem,» which occurred on the night of Feb. 6-7.

In its statement, available on the site of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the organization rejected all instrumentalization of the Holy Places. «The Council invites persons of all confessions, Christians, Jews and Muslims, to respect all the Holy Places and spaces of the three religions, and energetically deplores the conduct of extremists who exploit or involve sacred places in a political and territorial conflict.»

The appeal was signed in the name of the Gran Rabbinate of Israel, the Ministry of the Waqf (Pious Foundations) and of Religious Affairs of the Palestinian Authority and the heads of the local Churches in the Holy Land.

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