Report: rites in Holy Land will observe one date for Easter — UPDATED

Big news from Christ’s homeland:

For pastoral reasons, the Catholic Church in the Holy Land plans in future to celebrate Easter according to the Orthodox calendar. The reason is consideration of the many inter-church families, said the Franciscan Custos Pierbattista Pizzaballa. In ecumenical dialogue, the date of Easter is one of the major hurdles.

The alternative date for Easter in Catholic communities could probably be introduced next year, said Pizzaballa, who is one of the higher leaders of the Catholic church in the Holy Land. Then the Orthodox celebrate Easter on 5 May; the Churches of Western tradition celebrate the feast in 2013 in contrast five weeks earlier on 31st March. The Eastern churches determine the date of Easter according to the old Julian calendar, using a different calculation method.

More details here. I’ll keep an eye out for a news service report that can flesh this out.

UPDATE: I dropped a note to my colleague Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, to see if he knew anything about it.  He replied:

There was a decision by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries during their bi-annual meeting in March to move towards this in 2013. However, this will apply to all parishes in the Holy Land excluding Jerusalem and Bethlehem (where all the action takes place during the major religious holidays of Christmas and Easter). Therefore in reality, given that Jerusalem and Bethlehem are excluded, this really is not a very big deal since we will still have two Easters and two Christmases. My understanding is that a committee was formed to move towards this new arrangement for 2013, but to my knowledge a formal decision was not made yet.

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