Clerics in Holy Land puzzled by appointment of Italian to administer Jerusalem patriarchate
[Also the possible abolition/downgrading the last Latin patriarchate in the Middle East – to a simple archbishopric? The other Latin patriarchates (dating back to the times of the Crusaders and paralleling the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria) were allowed to become vacant in the early 1950s and suppressed in 1964]
Catholic World News – July 01, 2016
Arabic Catholics in the Holy Land are uneasy with the appointment of an Italian Franciscan, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, to serve as apostolic administrator of the Latin-rite Patriarchate of Jerusalem, following the resignation of Archbishop Fouad Twal.
Father Pizzaballa– who will be ordained as an archbishop in September when he assumes his new role– is fully acquainted with the region, having served for 12 years as the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land. (He was replaced in that role in June by Father Francesco Patton– another Italian friar appointed by the Vatican.) However, he does not speak Arabic: a point of contention for the Arabic-speaking people of the patriarchate, which spans Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus as well as the Palestinian territories. [“A shift away from promoting and empowering Palestinians and other Arabs in the Patriarchate and the beginning of more control from Rome?” – Catholic Herald]
Since 1987, the Jerusalem patriarchate has been led by an Arab: from 1987 to Archbishop Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian; then by Archbishop Twal, a Jordanian. Each of these Arabic prelates tendered his resignation, as required by canon law, upon reaching the age of 75; in each case the resignation was soon accepted.
Archbishop-elect Pizzaballa has been appointed as an interim administrator. It is not clear when a new Patriarch of Jerusalem will be chosen.