RELIGION

Holy Land's top Catholic cleric decries Mideast destruction

In his first pre-Christmas address, the new top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land has decried the destruction in Syria and Iraq.

Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa said on Monday that "Syria and Iraq are destroyed" and the plight of the region's Christians is tragic. He bemoaned how "wars and the way of force have not been able to bring peace and justice, it only brought more violence, death and destruction."

Pizzaballa took office earlier this year as the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, the temporary chief clergyman to the local Catholic population. As caretaker of Jerusalem's Latin Patriarchate, he has made his main task promoting dialogue among Christians in the Holy Land — and between Christians and others.

The Italian-born Pizzaballa, a Franciscan priest, replaced longtime patriarch Fouad Twal.