Statement issued by Archbishop Patrick Kelly in support of the Churches of the Holy Land

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Today I am offering the third of a triduum of Masses to pray for the pilgrimage beginning today of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster; Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Great Britain and Rev David Coffey, Free Churches Moderator. This journey of prayer and ecclesial support comes at an opportune moment. Last week the Pope met Prime Minister Olmert of Israel.

This week Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes is visiting the Holy Land with gifts from the Holy Father to the peoples across that Land. There are also signs that the Holy Land is finding a more prominent place in international political discourse marked by an awareness that justice for all its peoples will serve not only their security and peace but also of the wider region, and indeed of peoples across the world.

This is a moment precisely for pilgrimage, that is the way of prayer that commits those who take part, and those who are one with them, to be profoundly changed. It is always true, in the words of the late Cardinal Hume: ‘If ever I say things must change, it means I must change.’ It is a cause for joy that Church Leaders from this country will assure their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land that we in this country are one with them as they seek never to be silent in the face of injustice and violence, while never failing in fidelity to that reconciling deed accomplished on Calvary by the Son of Mary of Nazareth. The Scriptures make it clear that the Son of God’s reconciling deed is foreshadowed in this holy Christmas Season; that is why its overriding word is Shalom, Salaam, Peace.

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