Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) President Rateb Rabie, KCHS, represented HCEF at the 7th annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences, an eight-day gathering in the Holy land
Jerusalem – Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) President Rateb Rabie, KCHS, represented HCEF at the 7th annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences, an eight-day gathering in the Holy land of the Presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of Europe and North America in support of the Mother Church. The Coordination seeks to encourage Catholics worldwide to show their commitment to and solidarity with Arab Christians living in the Holy Land. It was formed in Jerusalem in 1998 at the behest of Pope John Paul II. HCEF serves as a platform for western Christians to strengthen their aid efforts in ecumenical unity. HCEF’s aim is ‘to replace despair with hope, fear with security, and humiliation with human dignity’.
The bishops urged their faithful to “pray for peace, come on pilgrimage, and undertake other activities to support the Mother Church.” In a statement released Jan. 18, they declared that “the Christian presence is a moderating influence and is essential to achieving peace”. In its final statement, the Coordination confirmed:
Our belief in the one God compels us to work for the welfare of two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, and members of three religions-Jews, Christians and Muslims, who belong to the one family of God. As bishops and pastors, we affirm our Holy Father’s recent address to the diplomatic corps in which he said, “The Israelis have right to live in peace in their state; the Palestinians have a right to a free and sovereign homeland” (January 8, 2007).
According to Sir Rabie “the Christian presence in the Holy Land is being decimated – less than two percent of the population remains Christian today – in spite of a rich history of Christian presence and traditions originating from the Mother Church”. Yet, thirteen Christian denominations have their roots in the Holy Land, including Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches. Rabie stated that HCEF will continue working to promote awareness and aid to the Arab Christians together with the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and all the Holy Land Churches.