The Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, told Vatican Radio this week that the upcoming visit to the Holy Land by Pope Benedict XVI will be "very encouraging and will help us to hold our heads high and soar a bit higher than we’ve been able to until now."
The Franciscan priest also said, "We are very happy that the Pope is coming and above all that he himself announced this visit, thus giving much relevance to this event, which will surely be unique."
When asked what the greatest obstacle to achieving peace in the Middle East is, Father Pizzabella responded, "There’s no easy answer… I can say that the problem lies in us, in the people that live here, the history, the religion, the sometimes excessive attacks, our own identity, and the fear of welcoming others."
"I think that in this sense, the Pope’s visit will be very encouraging, it will help us to hold our heads high and soar a bit higher than we have been able to up until now," he added.
He went to address some of the misunderstandings of what the Pope intends to accomplish in the Holy Land. "Naturally the Holy Land is at a very delicate crossroad, and the balance, whether between the churches, the different religious beliefs, the different people and politics, is also very delicate."
"The Pope is thus entering a very delicate glass house, in which instrumentalizations are always a trap. But I am sure that the Pope, with his personality and his language, won’t be carried away by these considerations," Father Pizzabella said.
Finally, regarding the preparations for the visit, Father Pizzabella said: "We recently concluded several meetings, and there will be more with all the proper authorities. To tell you the truth, we don’t have much time, but I'm sure that we'll be able to give His Holiness a decent welcome."