New hopes for region as Holy Land Coordination starts in Jerusalem
From 8 to 12 January 2012
Bishops from across Europe and North America will meet from 8 to 12 January in Jerusalem for the annual meeting of the Holy Land Coordination at a time of political and social change in the region.
This year they will meet local Christians across the Holy Land, with parish visits to Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem on Sunday 8 January, as well as meetings in Haifa, Ramallah and Jerusalem. With the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, the opening session of the Coordination will take place on Monday 9 January. 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.
Mgr. Duarte da Cunha, General Secretary of CCEE will also participate to express in the name of the presidency of CCEE the closeness of the European Church to the Christians in the Land that saw Jesus being born, die and resurrect. Sustaining the wellbeing of the Christians we are sure that peace for all persons living in that region will be strengthened and become more stable.
Archbishop Patrick Kelly said: “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.’
In addition to the prayers, liturgies and formal visits to other Catholic rites and Christian denominations, on Tuesday 10 January, 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.
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
Archbishop-Bishop Riccardo Fontana - Italy
Bishop Gerald Kicanas – USA
Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff – Germany
Bishop Michel Dubost – France
Bishop William Kenney – England and Wales
Bishop Peter Buercher - Island
There will be a press conference at 1100 on Thursday 12 January at the Custody of the Holy Land Hall (New Gate - Jerusalem)
For further information, please contact Mr Alexander Des Forges who will be accompanying the Holy Land delegation
Mr Alexander Des Forges
Director, Catholic Communications Network,
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Mobile: 0044 7983 704097
The origins of this particular co-ordination date back to the 1990s when the Bishops’ Conference of the United States was working in close contact with the Church in the Holy Land on issues concerning the future of Jerusalem in particular. In 1997 the US Bishops’ Conference asked the European Bishops’ Conferences to share with them this commitment in support of the Church in the Holy Land. This led to the Co-ordination which since 1998 has undertaken an annual visit in solidarity. The secretarial work of the Co-ordination is currently entrusted to Dr. David Ryall from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
To the Council of the Bishops´ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) belong, as members, the current 33 European Bishops’ Conferences of this Continent, represented by right by their Presidents, and the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova Rep.) and the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo. The President is Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary; the Vice-Presidents are Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, and Mgr Józef Michalik, Archbishop of Przemyśl. The General Secretary is Mgr. Duarte da Cunha. The Secretariat is based at St Gallen (Switzerland).