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Bishops in support of Palestinian Christians
The coordination group of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Catholic Church and of Christians in the Holy Land, often called Holy Land Coordination, will start their visit of the Holy land on Sunday, 12th January and will conclude on 16th January. The Coordination is composed of bishops from North America, Canada, South Africa and the European Union.
The Christian community of Gaza will be the focal point of this year’s visit. The Christian community of Gaza is made up of 2,500 people, of whom Catholics number around 300, in a total population of over 1.5 million. After celebrating mass with the Catholic community, the Bishops will visit Christian schools and hospitals to offer their support to the teachers and medical staff.
Following the two day visit to Gaza, the Bishops will meet with representatives of Israeli civil society and policy makers in Tel Aviv before going on to Bethlehem, where they will be based for the remainder of the visit. On Tuesday 14 January, the Bishops will meet with representatives of Palestinian civil society before meeting students and staff from Bethlehem University.
On Wednesday 15 January, there will be visits to projects supported by individual Bishops’ Conferences of the Holy Land Co-ordination focusing on education and youth empowerment schemes. Later that day, there will be a visit to the Cremisan Valley where the planned building of an Israeli security wall threatens the livelihoods of over 50 Christian families based in Beit Sahour and Beit Jala in the Bethlehem area.
Following meetings with Latin Patriarch Twal and the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Lanzarotto, mass will be celebrated for the 50th anniversary of Catholic Relief Services and an Ecumenical reception. The Holy Land Co-ordination concludes with a visit to the Armenian Patriarchate on Thursday morning, following prayers and mass.
This year’s Holy Land Co-ordination is composed of 14 Bishops from South Africa, Scandinavia, Ireland, France, Canada, England and Wales, USA, Germany, Poland and Spain.
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's 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 socio-economic pressure.