CNA Staff, Jan 24, 2021 / 06:01 am
A group of Christian leaders who advocate for the Holy Land this week reiterated a call for Israeli and Palestinian authorities to negotiate directly for the sake of peace in the region. They also encouraged Israel to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to Palestinians.
The Holy Land Coordination group, which was founded by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, is comprised of bishops from the U.S. and Europe, as well as a bishop of the Church of England. Since 2000, the group has taken an annual trip to the Holy Land, and promotes awareness, action, and prayer for the region.
During the bishops’ January 2020 trip, they visited Christians in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Ramallah. The bishops met virtually in January 2021 with Christians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
Due to the pandemic, this year is the first since the group’s founding that the bishops have not been able to meet in the Holy Land.
“The Christian community, though small, is an important guarantor of social cohesion and a bearer of hope for a better future. We eagerly await a time when Christians from across the world can once again make pilgrimages to the Holy Land to witness and support this first-hand. Until that point, we encourage our communities to provide any assistance that may be possible and hold all the region’s peoples in our prayers,” the group wrote in a Jan. 22 communiqué.
The delegation included Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.
The delegation noted that the absence of pilgrims to the Holy Land in the past year has exacerbated unemployment and poverty.
The bishops concluded that these factors, along with continuing political conflict, culminate to mean, “there is today less cause for optimism than at any time in recent history.”