At the invitation of the Council of Continuing Education of the Custody of the Holy Land, priests, male and female religious, as well as directors of schools and group leaders came together to explore the question of pastoral activities. This time of formation was conducted by Fr. Francesco Iannone, professor of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy.
The program ended on Thursday evening with a talk on “Living the Church in the Middle East”. He evoked the great change of this century: the end of a “triumphant and powerful Church run by Rome” in favor of a return to the Man, and therefore, to Jerusalem, the city of origins. He tackled the spiny question of the decreasing number of Christians and invited the participants to turn their gaze to Jesus of Nazareth. He also lived in the Middle East, in a different time, of course, but he, too, had to cope with cultural difficulties, different languages and customs that are sometimes devoid of sense or disturbing. “Christ knew that his human life would end in a fall but, aware of his origins, he did not experience it fatalistically. Quite the contrary; he thought of the “afterwards” – a Church, of what we are today,” explained Professor Iannone. In this way, he warned Christians of any attitude of folding in on oneself. “To defend oneself is also to dry up. Christians should understand that it is in creating space and living in relation to the other that they fully live their relationship with God.” At the end of these days of formation, he expressed his wishes for a “Custody turned outwards, because openness is already charity.”