By ZENIT Staff

Meetings with the parishioners, blessing of a new chapel, participation in a Christmas play with young people and children, administration of the sacraments: First Communion and Confirmation, celebration of Mass in the Catholic parish dedicated to the Holy Family (see photo), waiting for Christmas: these are the three-intense days – from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th December – that Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, is carrying out among the Christians of the Gaza Strip. Fides News Agency reported.

In recent years, the visit to the Gaza Strip during the week before Christmas has become a traditional commitment on the agenda of those who are pro tempore at the head of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

There are about a thousand Christians in the Gaza Strip, mostly Greek Orthodox, out of a population of two million. The small Catholic community is made up of less than two hundred parishioners. This year, as reported by Fides, for “security reasons” the Israeli authorities have not granted any temporary visas to the baptized Palestinians of the Gaza Strip to allow them to celebrate Christmas near the nearby Holy Places of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth, where Jesus Christ was born, died and rose again. “But the Child Jesus will also come to us”, a parishioner from Gaza tells Fides. Thus, in the difficult and often painful circumstances in which they live, the Christians of Gaza are preparing themselves for the feast.

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