HOLY LAND – Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination have arrived in the Holy Land making their annual visit in support of Christians, which is taking place from January 11- 17. This year, they are focusing on the theme: “Christians in the Holy Land: Challenges and Opportunities.”
The Holy Land Coordination is made up of Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa, who have made an annual pastoral visit to Israel and Palestine for the past 20 years. The Coordination’s annual meeting is taking place from 12-17 January.
On Sunday, January 13, the 19-member delegation of bishops visited the parishioners of Church of Visitation in Zababdeh where Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, presided Holy Mass and was concelebrated by Parish Priest Fr. Ibrahim Nino.
The delegation also celebrated Mass at St. Jerome’s grotto in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as part of their participation in this year’s Holy Land Coordination group’s visit.
Bishop Declan Lang, chair of the Holy Land Coordination had earlier said: “We have come to stand in solidarity with Christian communities in the Holy Land, who are an important part of our family and make a rich contribution to society, both in Israel and Palestine, as we will see in visits to Christian schools, hospitals and in dialogue with local politicians.”
While the Holy Land Coordination is not a fund-raising or project-based body, considerable development investment and growth in pilgrimages have developed directly as a result of the bishops’ visits. Prayer is the framework of the annual meeting, with daily celebration of the Eucharist, often in different rites.
The visiting bishops have often heard pleas for more pilgrims to come from their home countries, and there has been a concerted and successful effort on the part of bishops’ conferences to encourage pilgrimages, assisting many whose livelihoods depend on pilgrims.
The bishops also speak at a high-level to their own governments, parliamentarians, Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors and the media about a wide range of issues affecting the lives of Christians. In line with the approach the Holy See adopts everywhere else, the bishops do not seek privileges for Christians, but dignity and justice for them and for others in similar conflicts.
The bishops are present every year, and through their presence they hope, above all else, to remind the “living stones” of the Christian communities in the Holy Land that they are not forgotten by their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination include the following:
Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, England & Wales
Rt Rev William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, England & Wales
Rt Rev Stephen Ackermann, Bishop of Trier, Germany
Most Rev Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
Most Rev Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
Rt Rev Peter Burcher, Bishop Emeritus of Reykjavik, Iceland
Bishop Rodolfo Cetoloni, Bishop of Grosseto, Italy
Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, The Church of England
Rt Rev Kevin Dowling, Co-President Pax Christi International, South Africa
Rt Rev Michel Dubost, Bishop Emeritus of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes, France
Rt Rev Lionel Gendron, Bishop of St. Jean Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
Rt Rev Felix Gmur, Bishop of Basel, Switzerland
Rt Rev Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe, Ireland
Rt Rev William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway, Scotland
Rt Rev Jose Ornelas Carvalho, Bishop of Setubal, Portugal
Rt Rev Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, Ireland
Most Rev Joan Enric Vives Sicilia, Archbishop of Urgell, Spain