Archbishop Patrick Kelly has travelled to Jerusalem to take part in the annual Holy Land Coordination meeting.
Bishops from across Europe and North America will meet in Jerusalem for the Coordination at a time of political and social change in the region. Archbishop Kelly says: ‘The “Arab Spring” is a reality which has many different aspects, some positive, some negative for Christian Communities and there is great uncertainty as to what will happen in the coming months. In such a small region what happens in Damascus cannot but have an effect on what is happening in Bethlehem and what happens in Egypt must touch Gaza, where some of the Bishops hope to celebrate Mass. Anything happening in any one of those countries inevitably touches them all.’
This year the Bishops will meet local Christians across the Holy Land, with parish visits to Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem. Archbishop Kelly will visit the Parish of St Justin in Nablus which is twinned with St Cecilia, Liverpool, Father Mark Madden, Parish Priest of St Cecilia will also take part in the visit. During the four days of the meeting, there will be addresses from His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal and His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio Antonio Franco, presentations from academics and a view from both Israelis and Palestinians about the impact of the 'Arab Spring' and the socio-political changes in the region.
In addition to the prayers, liturgies and formal visits to other Catholic rites and Christian denominations, there will be a visit to Haifa, during which there will be an inter-religious exchange with the Jews, Muslims, Druze and Bahai. Political meetings will take place with both Israeli and Palestinian ministers.
Listen to Archbishop Patrick Kelly speaking to Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio about the visit
Since 1998, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has organised the annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and at the invitation of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. It is often more simply called the Holy Land Co-ordination.
Mandated by the Holy See, the Holy Land Co-ordination meets every January in the Holy Land, focusing on prayer, pilgrimage and persuasion with the aim of acting in solidarity with the Christian community there and sharing in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences intense political and social-economic pressure.
Episcopal Participants for this year’s Holy Land Coordination are:
Archbishop Patrick Kelly (England and Wales)
Archbishop Richard Smith (Canada)
Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives (Spain)
Bishop Gerald Kicanas (USA)
Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff (Germany)
Bishop Michel Dubost (France)
Bishop Richard Ackermann (Germany)
Bishop William Kenney (England and Wales)