Proclaim reconciliation and pray for the children of the Holy Land, says Bishop

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On Friday, 8 March, in their homes and churches, Catholics in England and Wales are finding time to pray for the suffering people of the Holy Land.

Five long, painful months after the Hamas terror attacks of 7 October and the subsequent bombing and ground offensive that has reduced Gaza to rubble and led to several thousand deaths and a humanitarian disaster of the most tragic proportions, we pray for a ceasefire and a lasting peace.

In addition to raising our voices for an end to hostilities, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, in encouraging this day of prayer, echoed the words of Pope Francis in calling for:

  • the release of all hostages,
  • for humanitarian aid to be allowed through to help those most in need,
  • for hospitals, schools and places of worship to be protected.

Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the International Affairs department of the Bishops’ Conference, offers his suggestions for prayer:

“Focus on the community of the Holy Family church [in Gaza] and focus on the suffering of the children everywhere throughout the land. I think one of the saddest things is seeing all these babies born and dying.

“There’s also a religious question that arises among people of our own country. I was asked the other day, ‘Can there be a God if this goes on?’ And it’s a very good question. All I can say, especially in this season of Lent, is that we look to the Cross and the Crucifixion to try and find some meaning of suffering.

“The suffering of Jesus leads to the Resurrection. The people of the Holy Land are going through a crucifixion at the moment and there’s little hope of resurrection for many of them – in their own hearts and minds. But the Christian community has to proclaim reconciliation.”

Bishop Lang was speaking about the prayer day on the Middle East Analysis podcast with our former Middle East North Africa region advisor, the international lawyer Dr Harry Hagopian.

Acknowledging that, as Christians, we’re called to be a people of hope, Bishop Lang stressed that reconciliation leads to resurrection:

“If we are people of reconciliation, if we are reconciled to each other in our own country, reconciled to the different communities that make this a nation, transfer that into our concern and our love for our neighbour. We’re called to be good neighbours, and that’s the first stage of evangelisation – to be a good neighbour.

“It shows, in Palestine and Israel, that it’s difficult to be a good neighbour. If we try to be good neighbours – and there are good people in Palestine and Israel – then if we work on that, there’s the way forward. Then there is resurrection because we are called to be a people of hope.”


You can listen to a two-minute clip below or listen to the full Middle East Analysis podcast.


The main image for this article shows Bishop Declan Lang, then-Chair of the Holy Land Co-ordination, greeting children at the house of the Daughters of Charity in Gaza. Taken January 2020.