Lent is "a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death".
Even the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem,
in this delicate moment of its history, is called to a change of pace, a
restart, after "mistakes and wrong decisions have been made which have
affected the life of the Patriarchate, financially and administratively,
mainly concerning the American University of Madaba".
It is a letter
written in a spirit of genuine frankness, that the Archbishop
Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin
Patriarchate of Jerusalem, addressed to all members of the diocese he
A Message which takes its title from the second Letter of St. Paul to
the Corinthians ("We have this treasure in earthen vessels"), and that,
at the beginning of the Lenten journey, offers Archbishop Pizzaballa the
occasion to frankly explain some reasons which on July 15 led Pope
Francis to appoint him apostolic Administrator.
"For 170 years", reads
Pizzaballa’s letter "this Patriarchate has played and still plays an
important role in the life of the Christians in the Holy Land. Our
parishes, schools and many other institutions have contributed much to
the life of the Christians in these lands and have strengthened our
witness to Christ and his Resurrection from the dead. However, we all
know that the naming of an Apostolic Administrator, someone from outside
the Patriarchate clergy, was an unexpected decision, and it came as a
surprise shock to many. It led to the conclusion that all is not well.
Indeed, mistakes have been made and wrong decisions have been made which
have affected the life of the Patriarchate, financially and
administratively, mainly concerning the American University of Madaba.
We had failed in some important areas, perhaps not focused enough on our
primary mission: preaching the Gospel and dedicate ourselves to the
The incident referred to by Archbishop Pizzaballa is the American
University of Madaba, AUM, affiliated University of the Latin
Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the first stone on May 9, 2009 was
blessed by Pope Benedict, and was inaugurated on May 30, 2013 in the
presence of King Abdallah II. At the end of 2014, the Holy See had to
intervene to take charge of administrative and financial problems that
had marked the construction and startup of the academic institution. An
ad hoc committee, established by the Secretary of State, had in turn
entrusted a local Committee of administrators, chaired by Archbishop
Giorgio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan, the "task to follow and
coordinate closely, until July 2015, the works of the University".
On the problems and emergencies experienced by the Latin Patriarchate,
Apostolic Administrator Pizzaballa convened a gathering of all the
diocesan priests of the Latin Patriarchate in late February. Archbishop
Pizzaballa's letter contains several references to that gathering he had
with the clergy of the Patriarchate in the House of the Visitation of
the Sisters of the Rosary in Fuheis, Jordan, where "two days were spent
together in deep and meaningful discussion about our beloved
Patriarchate, about our vocation and mission but also about the mistakes
that have led us to a critical situation, mainly financial".
Archbishop stresses that "now is the time to begin the work of reform,
reconstruction and renewal in certain sectors of our administration, but
He mainly invites "to focus even more on our pastoral
activities", recalling the decision "to open, for instance, new diocesan
offices for the pastoral work, which will coordinate and unify our
pastoral service to the community".
"We, bishops and priests in the
Patriarchate", recognizes the Apostolic Administrator "are among the
sinners who implore God’s mercy and beg for the grace of conversion. Our
mistakes and wrong judgments are clearly set before our eyes, like the
repenting Psalmist says. We must admit that we are like cracked and
broken clay vessels. We were entrusted with much but in our human
fragility, we allowed much to be wasted. Yet we know that the Lord uses
vessels that are fragile and providential tools in His plan of