Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, a native of Bergamo, Italy, was appointed as the new Custodian of the Holy Land in June of 2004 by the Holy See and nominated by the General Definitor of the Franciscan order. He succeeds Fr. Giovanni Battistelli, OFM.
The appointment also allows Fr. Pizzaballa to serve as President of the Commission for Missionary Evangelization, Chairman of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, and as a member of the Commission for Judaism and Islam of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
In a recent interview, Fr. Pizzaballa reflected that, “Franciscans are at the heart of the life of the Church and of the world here (in the Holy Land)…the greatest challenge that we find ourselves facing now is that of not being limited to undergoing the difficult situations in which we live, but to become interested in them with an active and critical attitude.”
Fr. Pizzaballa was ordained into the priesthood in 1990 and has lived in the Holy Land for over 15 years. His previous appointments include serving as vicar of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic parish, and superior of the Friary of Saints Joachim and Anne. Fr. Pizzaballa also served as an assistant professor of biblical Hebrew and Judaism at the Studium Biblicum in Jerusalem.
In 1995, Fr. Pizzaballa and Franciscan Fr. Massimo Pazzini published the Mass in Hebrew. Fr. Pizzaballa, who is presently completing a doctorate in Holy Scriptures at the Studium Biblicum, has also translated several liturgical texts into Hebrew for the Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities in Israel.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Richard J. Sontag, Jr.