- Jan 25, 2020
Franciscan Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land says he sees unity and harmony among Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land. While some would prefer to reduce the role of religion in the region, “the meeting of the three Abrahamic communities” is essential. “You can’t solve the problem excluding religion. You can solve it only by including religion.”
As the Franciscans celebrate the 800th anniversary of their presence in the Holy Land, the sacred role the 300 friars from 34 countries continue to play is a blessing. The Church of the Visitation is one of 29 shrines in the care of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. On a busy day, the church receives up to 20 pilgrimage groups. The friars have begun to work on the garden to make it more inviting for pilgrims and visitors, so they will stay for a bit longer than the average half-hour visit and contemplate the miracle of the place.
Now that the diocesan phase of the sainthood cause of Father Paul Wattson is closed and all the documentation has been shipped off to Rome, the ball’s in the court of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Born in 1863, Wattson was a convert from Episcopalianism and went on to be an ecumenical pioneer, helping develop the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
A group of more than 30 Buddhist children, ages 7 to 18, from the U.S. Zen Institute summer camp in Germantown, Maryland, visited the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington to learn about Christianity, St. Francis and his followers.
A person who decides to enter religious life faces many obstacles, but one of the most daunting and least considered initially is student debt. When vocations go up, it becomes too difficult for a community to pay off all student loans, so those entering religious life have had to find ways to pay it off themselves before getting on with their new lives.
Superiors of the four main branches of the Franciscan friars formally asked Pope Francis to allow their communities to elect brothers to positions of leadership, even though the Vatican has insisted in the past that ordination is a requisite for “the power of governance.”