Bishop William Kenney is one of the longest-serving bishop delegates of the Holy Land Co-ordination – an annual pilgrimage of Bishops to the lands of Christ.
As such, he’s able to give us a brief history lesson at the start of our ‘Catholic News’ podcast and points out that he’s only missed one year in the past 17 – including the turbulent years of the Second Palestinian Intifada.
Bishop Kenney talks about the people of the region, the prospect of peace and the role the Catholic Church plays in supporting the wider community in the Holy Land – not just the Christians.
The mission of the Church has always been to help people in need – not just the Christian community:
“The point you take here is ‘need’ – not whether you’re Muslim, Christian, a non-believer. The same is true of our schooling. Our schools in the Holy Land are open to many other children – mainly Muslim children but there’d be no problem with Jewish children coming as well within the area of Israel.
“Always, as we do in this country, we offer schooling first of all to Catholics but then the places are open to others – it’s not discriminatory. The Catholic church has always invited everybody to come.
“I always used to say, when I was leading Caritas in Europe, in the instructions we had, it said we were to help people in need. And then there was a very important full stop. There was no other qualification other than ‘need’ when it comes to helping people. That’s still the case. The Church is still carrying that mission out – and I’m proud of it.”