Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 06/03/2000 info:

Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land
Ecumenical Activity

The ecumenical activity of the Custody has been developing along two aspects - one is culture and the other is social. Culturally speaking, the Custody operates the Christian Information Center in Jerusalem and the Saint Paul Memorial in Damascus, Syria. In Egypt, on the other hand, the " Eastern Organization of the HolyLand to Assist the Copts" serves within the social aspect.

The aim of the Christian Information Center is to provide up-to date information and news to mass media, to writers and to researchers on scholarly achievements accomplished in the Holy Land, as well as to provide accommodations at the Center for seminars, conferences, prayer meetings and other religious and cultural activities. This and other information is made available to the public through a bulletin published by the Center.

Another facility that the Custody maintains is the Memorial of St. Paul located in Damascus, Syria built in 1964 on the land of the Custody near the site of the conversion of St Paul. Pope Paul VI donated the funds for this facility and gave it to the Franciscan Custody for its care and maintenance. It serves as a retreat house as well as a center for theological, pastoral, ecumenical, or historical -archeological gatherings .The center and chapel are available to all Catholics (and in certain cases to other Christians) for their spiritual needs. The center, which is active in local pastoral ministry, also offers hospitality to pilgrims who have come to visit the place of the Apostle's conversion.

In regards to the social ecumenical aspects, our principal program has been with the "Eastern Organization of the Holy Land to Assist the Copts." This program was established for the purpose of providing financial and moral support without distinction to both Catholic and Orthodox faithful who comprise the poorer classes of the Nile delta.

As to the wider ecumenical activity the Custody has attempted to become more actively involved with various projects and programs promoting ecumenism. Here are just a few:


Frs. Piccirillo and Alliata have made important contributions in their archeological study of churches.


Our friars Fernandez, Pena, and Castellana are actively involved in archeological studies in relation ancient Christianity in the region.


Several different levels of work continue at the Musky Center. Fr. Giamberardini has done important Marian research in relation to how the Coptic church views Mary and the Custody is actually involved in scientifically preparing personnel to continue and deepen this understanding.


Today there is a more open and congenial relationship between the Custos and the Greek and Armenian Patriarchs. They have prayed together and on numerous occasions have demonstrated Christian solidarity by jointly signing public documents.

Regular courses obout the Eastern Churches are offered at the school of theology at St. Savior's; the director of the Christian Information Centre is an active member of the "Friends of Ecumenism."; the Franciscan Printing Press produces ecumenical publications; relationships with the the Greek, Armenian and Syrian Orthodox brethren has also improved where the " StatusQuo," is still observed; at parishes an annual" Week of Prayer for Unity" is held and widely accepted; Very good relations continue to develop between the Franciscans assigned to Acco and their Muslim neighbors. At Ain Karem Christians and Jews join together for the "Mozart festival".....

Created / Updated Monday, March 06, 2000 at 22:07:54