During his visit to Spain this week, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, Kamal Hanna Bathish, encouraged the Spanish to feel as if the Holy Land also belongs to them and to go on pilgrimage to the holy places.
During a speech in Palencia, Bishop Bathish assured his listeners that “at this time it is safe to go to the Holy Land, it’s not a risk because while there is indeed a conflict, it does not affect that area.”
Later, during an interview after his speech, Bishop Bathish emphasized the necessity for “people to know that the Holy Land also belongs to them and they can always go. Because people are afraid, but when they go and then come back afterwards, they realize that nothing happened. The idea here is for them to know the meaning of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to encourage them to see it.”
Likewise, Bishop Bathish, who is originally from Nazareth and defines himself as “a Christian who has lived in Jerusalem for 40 years,” said that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem “will be easily found with truth and justice,” although he lamented that “today these things are not discussed in politics.”
Asked about the strength of the Catholic Church in Palestine and Israel, Bishop Bathish took care to mention that despite being a minority, the Christian community is not only strong but is also well respected by the populace.
“Of course she is strong, although Christians may be a minority, the Church enjoys great respect among the populace for what she does, although there are some people, from one side, who are not in agreement with Catholic thoughts and actions,” he said.