Challenges, conflicts and attempts at reconciliation: in this context, the Holy Land welcomed the Holy Land Coordination, a group of bishops who arrived in the Holy Land from different countries. The purpose of the visit was to promote dialogue, mutual respect and peace, as constantly requested by Pope Francis.
Among the various appointments: prayers in the holy places, such as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the holiest sites of Christianity. The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presided over the Mass. In his homily, he spoke of physical death and ethics in this holy and difficult land. “From this place, however,” he recalled, “Christians must learn to be witnesses of life, which is stronger than death.”
H.E. Mons. PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA, ofm
Apostolic Administrator – Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
“The Holy Land Coordination has been coming for many years at this time of the year in January, after the Christmas holidays, to meet with local bishops and with the Christian community of the Holy Land: difficulties, expectations, hopes and problems are reviewed from a religious and political point of view. The aim is therefore to bring our prospects into their respective dioceses, to especially invite all to pray for us and also to become their advocates within their own political reality that sees the need of the Christian presence here.”
The bishops visited the parishes and met with leaders of other religions and with different voluntary workers who pursue peace in the land of Jesus.
H.E. Mons. RICCARDO FONTANA
Archbishop of Arezzo – Cortona – San Sepolcro, Italy
“The Holy Land is not a problem … it is part of us. We must not forget the Holy Land during the rest of the year. We must give space and quality at a reflection that will later motivate contributions, interventions and political steps.”
During their tour, the bishops also spent some time with the migrants and refugees and visited the tiny Christian community in Gaza, the Palestinian territory that has been suffering because of the many conflicts.
H.E. Mons. MICHEL DUBOST, cjm
Bishop of Évry Corbeil-Essonnes, France
“I think that the current situation does not seem worse than in the past, but if we analyze it, we will find that many people do not know what freedom is: they have the passport to a life with no future. And this reality is harder than the cold weather and than the lack of water, harder than the rest of the afflictions…
Their living conditions are extremely harsh. We have the enormous task of helping them.”
H.E. Mons. CHRISTOPHER CHESSUN
Bishop of Southwark, UK – Anglican Church
“Meeting brothers and sisters in Christ in Gaza gives us the opportunity to hear the stories of the people of this land, of the Christians’ resilience … The Vatican has recognized Palestine and this is very important for the future of the Palestinian people: that all the people of this land, whatever their faith and regardless of their nationality, are treated with dignity and respect.”