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Rome Reports

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Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem discusses Christmas under Covid in Bethlehem

The Holy Land, for years a primary destination for tourists and pilgrims, has been closed to travelers since the pandemic spiraled out of control last March.

In a Zoom meeting with Stand Together, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem talked about what to expect for Christmas under Covid in the Holy Land.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
“There are no pilgrims, so there will be less people than usual, and also not all the Christians can move from city to city. So we'll be very limited. Because of the virus, because of the pandemic, the closed buildings, including churches—the number is limited according to the size of the building. So it will be a very low-profile Christmas.”

With thousands of families out of work because of the pandemic, the Catholic Church and other Christian organizations have created an internal network to support them.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
“For instance, the community in Galilee is stronger than the community in Palestine, so they support each other with the food and the money, scholarships and so on. Then we created some funds, humanitarian funds, and try to support the families with basic necessities.”

Despite political, religious, and now, health challenges, His Beatitude Pizzaballa finds hope in the commitment and fraternity between individuals in times of need.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
“But we need to accompany our words of hope with gestures of love, solidarity and closeness, and we cannot pretend to change the world. [...] We have to work in the context in which we are, little by little.”

Although Jesus' birthplace and hometown will remain emptier than usual, the traditional Christmas Mass in Bethlehem will be celebrated and streamed online. It's another sign of hope that the spirit of the season remains alive.