Rivlin was greeted by The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III.
The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa commented on Israel’s solidarity and sensitivity to the Christian community.
“It is a long tradition that the President of Israel receives the heads of the Christian churches at his residence towards the end of the civil year,” said the archbishop. “The fact that, despite our small number, you decided to come to us, makes your visit all the more appreciated.”
“We want to thank you for this sensibility towards the Christian presence in the Holy City, and in Israel in general,” said Pizzaballa, adding that it was fascinating to see Israeli policemen arriving to the Holy City to help with the festivities, directing different faith groups to their holy sites.
He spoke of the many pilgrims who came to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, from Egypt to Mauritius, from Europe to Asia, and from the Americas to Russia. “Jerusalem was full of people with different colors, dresses, languages, traditions, and liturgies, which I am sure is impossible to find elsewhere in the world.”
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III also shared his appreciation of the President’s visit and pointed that in a world of confusion and peril, Jerusalem and the Holy Land “are the only place where people can take refuge.”
“Your visit comes at a time when our region is experiencing despicable acts of violence against the human family. We appreciate your compassion and deep respect for human life, and your sensitivity to human experience,” he said.
“In these days of our common celebrations, we see the deep relationship that unites Jews and Christians as the children of Abraham, along with our Muslim sisters and brothers. This coming together of these feasts this year is a wonderful providential sign of hope,” said Patriarch Theophilos.
President Rivlin, who in previous years had visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Armenian Patriarchate to convey Easter holiday wishes, emphasized Israel’s solidarity with the Christian community. “I say to you here, our Christian brothers of Jerusalem, our thoughts are with you at this difficult time. We have all seen the pictures from Syria; I visited some of the injured being treated in Israeli hospitals,” said Rivlin, who also noted the brutal terror attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians.
“The Jewish people know better than any what it means to pray in fear, and suffer from terrorism, and I want to say to you that Israel will stand firm to protect your freedom of worship, your security, and the security of your holy sites.”
Reposted with permission from TPS