Friday, 16 January 2009

The Holy Land Co-ordination is currently made up of representatives from Catholic Bishops' Conferences from across Europe and North America. A group of this body (photo above and names below) have just come back from the Holy Land. This is what they have to say:

Over and over again we heard these cries during the ninth visit of the Co-ordination of Episcopal Conferences to the Mother Church of Jerusalem in this divided and suffering land. The violence in Gaza was on everyone’s minds and lips. We heard directly about the human tragedy from the parish priest of Gaza, Father Manawel Musallam.

There can be no peace unless people believe in peace. There can be no security unless there is security for all. There can be no justice unless there is justice for everyone in this land. Faith gives us hope that justice, peace and forgiveness are possible—a conviction shared by our hosts, His Beatitude Fouad Twal and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land.

We are pastors, not political leaders, but the religious voice is vital to the search for peace. The reality that every human person is created in the image of God demands dignity for all. The message of the Prince of Peace, born in this land, reminds us that peace is possible. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2) The darkness of this time will give way to light.

To the leaders of the international community we say: Work with Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence in Gaza and provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance. But do not stop there. With one voice press Israelis and Palestinians to build a just peace with security for Israel and a viable state for Palestinians.

To the people of God in our countries we say: Intensify your prayer for the welfare of the Mother Church and the peace of Jerusalem. Do not be afraid. Come as pilgrims to the Holy Land and meet the living Christian communities here. Join us in persuading our governments to make Israeli-Palestinian peace a high priority. Support concrete projects and partnerships with the local Christian communities that are struggling for survival.

To the Christians of the Mother Church in the Holy Land we say: We see in you the suffering face of Christ who lost everything for our sake. You are not alone. We are one family, a worldwide communion in Christ. We hear your cries as you suffer alongside your brothers and sisters in the wider community.

We assure you of our love, our prayer and our continued solidarity. We ask you to pray for us.

Bishop Peter Bürcher
Bishop of Reykjavik

Bishop Michel Dubost
Bishop of Evry

Bishop Raymond Field
Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin

Archbishop Patrick Kelly
Archbishop of Liverpool

Bishop William Kenney CP
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson

Archbishop Reinhard Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising

Bishop Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia
Bishop of Urgell and Co-Prince of Andorra

Archbishop V. James Weisgerber
Archbishop of Winnipeg

The Patriarch and the Parish Priest of Gaza in Gaza in slightly better times.

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