Pope Francis says "We are sadly witnessing a tragedy unfolding in the very places where the Lord lived, where He taught us through His humanity to love, to forgive, and to do good to all."

Consistory Hall on Thursday, November 9, 2023
(Image Pope Francis touches the icon of Our Lady of Palestine patroness of the Equestrian Order)
Dear Cardinals, dear brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Members of the Grand Magisterium and Lieutenants, brothers and sisters!
I welcome all of you, Knights, Dames and Ecclesiastics who represent the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. I address a particular greeting to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Grand Master of the Order and I extend my feelings of gratitude and esteem to all the members of the Order throughout the world.
You have gathered in Rome for the Consulta, which includes the meeting of the Lieutenants, the Magistral Delegates and this year also the Grand Prior Bishops, to discuss the topic of formation. A necessary training for candidates aspiring to enter the Order; ongoing formation for those who already participate in his life and mission; and also the training of those who are called to hold positions of responsibility, with two elements: the spiritual one, in the awareness of the high moral commitment undertaken before the Altar; and that relating to the organization of activities and the administrative management of resources, to continuously and adequately meet the needs of the Holy Land.

Initial and ongoing, practical and spiritual training: these are four guidelines that we can see represented in the sign of the Cross, which clearly stands out on your cloaks and which animates your spirituality. With her horizontal arm she reminds you of the commitment to ensure that dedication to the crucified and risen Christ embraces your whole life, and in her charity makes you close to every brother and sister; while with the vertical one, well planted on the ground and facing the sky, it reminds you of the indispensable complementarity, in your journey, between a life of prayer and service of your brothers, attentive, qualified, well rooted in the realities in which you work, aimed at the total good of the person (see Eph 3,17-19; St. Thomas Aquinas, Comm. in Ep. ad Eph., III, lect. 5).
In this sense, the Statutes that I approved constitute the main path on which to move as a lay Order, with a purpose already well understood by Blessed Pius IX and then confirmed by his successors: to associate men and women who are committed to fuller participation to the life of the Church, starting from that "Mother" Church of Jerusalem, according to the teaching of the apostle Paul (see 1 Cor 16.3), and opening up to the whole world. With this universal breath, you are called to be an Order which, strong in its own identity, participates in the mystery of charity in the most beautiful, open and available way, ready to assume those services that the Lord requires through the needs of its brothers: from the education of childhood in schools to concrete solidarity with the most fragile categories, such as the elderly, the sick, refugees. Let us always remember here, I would say, the "refrain" that the Lord has all the prophets say in the Old Testament: the widow, the orphan and the stranger; the widow, the orphan and the stranger. This care that we must have.
The empty tomb, of which by vocation you have committed yourself for centuries to be special Custodians, is in this sense above all a sign of the boundless love of the Crucifix, who holds nothing for himself and who therefore cannot be held back by the bonds of death; it is a sign of the victory of the Risen One in whom we too find life (see Rom 6.8-9) and of the power of the Mystery of his Body and of his Blood which unites us all as members of him (see 1 Cor 10.17 ).
Training and training, at the beginning of the Investiture journey and throughout life. Education is lifelong. Train and train in universal and inclusive charity. Studying the history of your Order from this perspective and, in a context of listening and prayer, applying yourself to acquiring the skills to respond to the needs of others: this is a great service that you can do today to the Church and to the world. In every era, even in ours marked by the technocratic paradigm, there is a great need for people who practice charity with intelligence and imagination. I therefore urge you to continue your work with this style and to transmit it faithfully in the various phases of formation.
Before concluding, I would like to turn my thoughts with you to the Holy Land. We are sadly witnessing a tragedy unfolding in the very places where the Lord lived, where He taught us through His humanity to love, to forgive, and to do good to all. And instead, we see them torn apart by tremendous suffering that affects so many innocents above all, so many innocent dead. For this reason I am spiritually united with you, who are certainly experiencing this meeting of the Consulta by sharing the great pain of the Mother Church of Jerusalem and imploring the gift of peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Virgin Mary invoked by you with the title of Queen of Palestine always assist you in your mission. I heartily bless you, I bless all the members of the Order with their families. And I recommend you, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you.