The Custos of the Holy Land at the European Parliament: the conference on Christians in the Middle East and the presentation of a project for a Christian Museum in Jerusalem

Giacomo Pizzi12 May 2012

The Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, is on a mission to Brussels (Belgium). Yesterday, 9 May, he participated at the Conference “Christians in the Arab World: One year after the Arab Spring” organized by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

The Custos of the Holy Land, along with the Director of ATS pro Terra Sancta Tommaso Saltino, took advantage of this opportunity to meet with the Honorable Mario Mauro and Gianni Pittella, and with Vladimir Sucha, Director of Culture and Media at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture.

The aim of the meeting was to present the project for a Holy Land Christian Museum to these important people from the European Parliament: as explained at the meeting, through the creation of a modern museum center, the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land wish to enhance, and make accessible to all, the artistic and archaeological heritage accumulated during the eight centuries they have protected and safeguarded the Holy Places.

The Custos of the Holy Land expressed to the parliamentarians the importance of “preserving the Christian character of the Holy City and making known the past and present of Christian Jerusalem”, emphasizing the fact that “the great cultural heritage of the Franciscans, a legacy from the past, also contains within itself the potential to initiate a dialogue for the future among the cultures and peoples from all over the world who come together in the Holy City”.

The two parliamentarians, who showed considerable interest in the idea of creating a Christian museum center in Jerusalem, have for many years been committed to the protection of the Christian communities in the Middle East: the Honorable Gianni Pittella is First Vice President of the European Parliament and is a member of the Delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. In 2007 the Honorable Mario Mauro was put in charge of “Relations with Churches and Religious Communities”, focusing in particular on situations of discrimination against Christians and the defense of minority rights.

Along with the two Parliamentarians, Vladimir Sucha, the Director of Culture and Media, also expressed considerable interest at the meeting, all three asking a number of questions of the Custos of the Holy Land and the Director of ATS pro Terra Sancta about the project for a Christian Museum in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of the meeting, they provided assurances of their support, and their willingness to assist in identifying possible ways of obtaining financing for the project from EU institutions.


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