17 January 2022 | Address of His Holiness


Clementine Hall

[…] To make known the Holy Land, means communicating the “Fifth Gospel”, that
is, the historical and geographical environment in which the Word of God was
revealed and incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, for us and for our salvation. It also
means making known the people who live there today, the life of the Christians of
the various Churches and denominations, but also that of Jews and Muslims, to
attempt to build a fraternal society in a context as complex and difficult as that of
the Middle East.
Communication, in the time of social networks, must help to build community, or
better still, fraternity (see Message for the World Communications Day 2019). I
encourage you to recount the fraternity that is possible: the fraternity between
Christians of Churches and confessions that are unfortunately still separated, but
which in the Holy Land are often already close to unity, as I myself have had the
opportunity to observe; to tell of the fraternity that is possible among all the
children of Abraham – Jews, Christians and Muslims; to tell of the ecclesial
fraternity that is open to migrants, displaced persons and refugees, to restore to
them the dignity they were deprived of when they had to leave their homeland in
search of a future for themselves and their children. To tell all of this.
I thank you because, to recount the Holy Land, you endeavour to meet people
where and as they are (see Message for World Communications Day 2021). Indeed,
to carry out your reports, your enquiries and your publications, you do not limit
yourselves to the calmer territories; you also visit the more difficult and afflicted
situations, such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Gaza. I know that you try to
present stories of goodness, those of active resistance to the evil of war, those of
reconciliation, those of the restoration of dignity to the children robbed of their
childhood, those of refugees with their tragedies but also with their dreams and
their hopes. Thank you, because to carry out your work in this way, you have not
spared the soles of your shoes, and I know that you will not do so in the future, to
be able to recount all of this.
Indeed, in communicating a certain reality, nothing can completely replace personal
experience, living there. And you live and work in the very place where the Word of
God, his message of salvation, was made incarnate and “encounterable” in Jesus
Christ: not only in his words, but in his eyes, in his voice, in his gestures (cf.
Message for World Communications Day 2021). Jesus’ attractiveness “depended on
the truth of his preaching; yet the effectiveness of what he said was inseparable
from how he looked at others, from how he acted towards them, and even from his
silence. The disciples not only listened to his words; they watched him speak.
Indeed in him – the incarnate Logos – the Word took on a face; the invisible God let
himself be seen, heard and touched (cf. 1 Jn 1.1-3). The word is effective only if it
is “seen” only if it engages us in experience, in dialogue” (ibid.).
Dear communicators of the Custody of the Holy Land, you are required to make
known what the Synod on the Word of God (2008) and then Pope Benedict XVI
called “the Fifth Gospel”, that is, that Land where the history and geography of
salvation meet and allow us to make a new reading of the biblical text, in particular
the Gospel texts. There “we can see, indeed, tangibly feel that reality of the history
that God brought about with men and women; beginning with the places of
Abraham’s life and including the places of Jesus’ life, from the incarnation to the
empty tomb, the sign of his Resurrection. Yes, God entered this land, he acted with
us in this world” (Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli, 17 May 2009). And the Paschal
Mystery also illuminates and gives meaning to today’s history, to the journey of the
peoples who live on that earth today, a journey unfortunately marked by wounds
and conflicts, still today, but which God’s grace always opens up to hope, hope of
fraternity and peace (cf. ibid.). In this sense too, by telling the story of the Holy
Land, you are telling the “Fifth Gospel”, the Gospel that God continues to write in
Through the means of social communication, you are able to enrich the faith of
many, even those who do not have the opportunity of making a pilgrimage to the
holy places. You do so by means of your professional commitment, carried out
skilfully every day in the service of the Gospel. This is valuable for believers
throughout the world and, at the same time, supports the Christians who live in the
Land of Jesus. And I want to take advantage of this opportunity to express my
closeness to them. I always remember them, also in prayer. Please, when you
return home, convey my greeting and my blessing to the families and Christian
communities of the Holy Land.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord’s providence and the protection of the Holy
Virgin always accompany you in your activities. I heartily impart the apostolic
blessing to you all, and to the other collaborators who were unable to come. And I
ask you, from the Holy Land, for a prayer for me too. Thank you!