In a show of solidarity and support for Christians in the Holy Land, Catholic bishops from Europe and the Americas have organized a pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Jerusalem this week.
The bishops will meet in the two Biblical cities Jan. 12-15 for a conference entitled "The Universal Church in solidarity with the Church of the Holy Land".
Tourism and the morale of Christians there have both dropped due to the political instability in the area. The number of Christians in the Holy Land also continues to decrease as Christian families decide to leave. The bishops hope their visit will encourage the Christians there and revitalize the frozen market of Catholic pilgrimages to the region.
Bishops from Canada, England & Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States will attend the meeting. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land are hosting the meeting.
The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) and Caritas Latin America will also be represented.
The meeting was co-ordinated by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales.