Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem, finally took possession on May 1 of his assigned titular church in Rome after having postponed the ceremony due to the war in the Holy Land.

Part of the process of becoming a cardinal is being assigned a titular church in Rome known as his “title” or “deaconry” in accordance with his role in assisting the pope, the bishop of Rome.

The ceremony at St. Onuphrius, the titular church of the papal order of the Holy Sepulchre, was scheduled for April 15 when the conflict in the Middle East worsened with the Iranian attack on Israel.

On the night of April 13, the Israeli army reported that Iran launched dozens of missiles and drones from its territory, most of which were intercepted outside Israeli territory by the country’s air defense systems.

Consequently, the patriarch, who had planned to travel to Rome, had to cancel the trip at the last minute and reschedule the ceremony.

Pizzaballa was created a cardinal by Pope Francis at the Sept. 30, 2023, consistory along with 21 other cardinals.

In his May 1 homily, which he gave at St. Onuphrius Church in Rome, the Italian cardinal noted that the Church of Jerusalem is “the mother Church” in which “the roots of the universal Church” are found.

He also said that it is the “central heart” of the life of the Church, although this universality “is not complete without Peter.”

Along these lines, the prelate stated that being made a cardinal “is not a coincidence” and that united with Peter, and Rome united with Jerusalem, “they complete this picture with their roots in the Holy Land.”

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“Being a cardinal is not only a title or an honor, it is also a responsibility,” the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem remarked.

He also reflected on true joy, which is born “from the deep, serene, and conscious” union with the Lord.

‘We are going through the most difficult moments in our history’

Referring to the war ravaging the Holy Land, the cardinal lamented: “We are going through the most difficult moments in our recent history” and stressed that the impact of this conflict on the population “is enormous, more than any other war or conflict.”

The cardinal added that “we would like the United States to resolve the problem, as well as the peace negotiations,” although he regretted that at the moment “nothing is happening.”

The patriarch explained that conflict “is not the way in which the kingdom of God grows” but rather “it grows in community, peacefully.”

“The kingdom of God is not a miracle but the seed in the earth that grows and bears fruit, which is born from the heart of God’s love,” he said. For the cardinal, the kingdom of God “can also be experienced within war.”

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Pizzaballa said that “the Lamb of God is the light that illuminates the city of Jerusalem” and that “we are called to be able to see the reality of the world through the paschal light of Christ, who died out of love and was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Finally, he urged “seeking ways of reconciliation” and that the words “truth, justice, and forgiveness” never be separated from one another.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.