Archbishop Patrick Kelly, speaking from Bethlehem where he is leading the Holy Land Co-ordination, called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza on Sunday morning.
“There needs to be an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian relief through. There is an urgent need for humanitarian relief for the population of Gaza. Violence is evil, especially when it blocks humanitarian aid.
“The first duty of leaders in this situation is to take the necessary steps to stop and avoid violence and to take the costly steps to engage in dialogue. What is needed now is a will on both sides to listen, understand and move towards reconciliation. History always judges as truly brave those who are open to any conversation that saves a single life.
“The agencies, supported by the Church, seek to serve all. However they have a specific responsibility to the needs of the minority Christians and also to appreciate the role of religion and faith in this land. Any solution must recognise this land has to be home for two peoples and three religions.”
This weekend, Bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination met with students from Bethlehem University and parishioners from Beit Sahour, where they presided at a wedding of two parishioners. They also took part in a procession through Bethlehem with schoolchildren from across the West Bank.
The Episcopal Co-ordination in Support of the Church in the Holy Land was set up in Jerusalem in October 1998 at the request of the Holy See and is organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. Last year at a meeting between Bishops from the Holy Land Co-ordination and the Vatican’s Secretariat of State Cardinal Bertone renewed the mandate and thanked the Holy Land Co-ordination for its vital work in supporting the Church in the Holy Land.
The Holy Land Co-ordination meets every January in the Holy Land with the aim of acting in solidarity with local Christians and sharing in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences intense political and social-economic pressure.
One of the key focuses of the Holy Land Co-ordination is to encourage more Christians to go on pilgrimage to this land.