Bishops from across Europe and North America this week will be visiting refugees in Jordan from the Syrian conflict along with other suffering and vulnerable people and communities in the Holy Land as the focus of this year’s Holy Land Co-ordination.
The 13th meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land takes place from 5-10 January. The delegation will meet in Bethlehem, visit Jordan and then concluding the annual pastoral visit in Jerusalem.
Delegates will be updated about the current situation in the Holy Land from His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and from the Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr Giuseppe Lazzarotto. There will be contributions from representatives of different Christian organisations and those who work with refugees, prisoners, Philippine workers and other vulnerable people.
In addition to prayer and the daily celebration of Mass there will also be meetings with the local communities and Catholic prelates from different rites, students from Bethlehem University, representatives of civil society and with the local authorities.
The visit will end on 10 January in Jerusalem with a celebration of Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre followed by a news conference for all media.
The delegation is organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, with a mandate from the Holy See to offer support to the Christian Churches and communities of the Holy Land. It is made up of Catholic Bishops from across Europe and North America and Catholic organisations and agencies who join together with the Association of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land for an annual meeting every January.
The Holy Land Co-ordination’s purpose has often been expressed as prayer, pilgrimage and persuasion. The Bishops also hope their presence reminds the “living stones” of the Christian communities in the Holy Land that they are not forgotten to their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. The Bishops do not seek privileges for Christians, but dignity and justice for them and others in similar situations.
This year’s Holy Land Co-ordination include the following bishops:
Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives – Spain
Archbishop Richard Smith – Canada
Bishop Declan Lang – England and Wales
Bishop Gerald Kicanas – USA
Bishop Stephan Ackermann – Germany
Bishop Michel Dubost – France
Bishop William Kenney – England and Wales
Bishop Peter Bürcher – Iceland
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