UNESCO: BETHLEHEM, CUSTODIAN AND NUNCIO: “HERITAGE OF MANKIND ALREADY” (2)
According to the Custodian, “it is an initiative that makes it harder for us to run the place, because, based on Unesco rules, before the UN agency, such a place is run by the government, not by the owner of the place”. Father Pizzaballa fears that “the oly places may be used for political purposes. We do not want to be exploited for issues the holy places should have nothing to do with”. Mgr. Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem, took position on this issue as well. “The holy place of Christianity is, by definition, heritage of mankind – the nuncio explained to SIR –. From a strictly religious point of view, for no other political or cultural reasons, the holy places, that is, the places the are in this region and that historically tell us about the Lord’s life and work or about salvation-related events, are in themselves heritage of mankind, and no other additional definition is needed. And this is the point that perplexes the three Christian communities that are part of the status quo for Bethlehem. We will always claim that a holy place is heritage of mankind as such, regardless of Unesco’s seal. The Custody guards the holy places, so that they may be open to all of mankind. We are in a universal religious dimension that we want to protect and have respected”.