Irish bishops who have just returned from a fact-finding mission to the Holy Land say that have been inspired by the “enduring resilience” of the small Christian community there.
Bishop Noel Treanor or Down and Connor and Bishop Alan McGuckian of Raphoe were part of an international delegation who travelled to the region to show solidarity with the Christians and support the peace process there.
Following the visit, the bishops issued a communique calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to work harder to try and make lasting peace and security.
“In Gaza, the political decisions of all sides have resulted in the creation of an open-air prison, human rights abuses and a profound humanitarian crisis.
“We were welcomed by families whose focus is now day-to-day survival and whose aspirations have been reduced to bare essentials such as electricity and clean water,” the bishops said.
They paid tribute to local Christians who work for justice, peace and mutual understanding. They said: “we are moved by the sacrifice of religious sisters, lay people and priests who are reaching out with respect to every side, in order to build a better future for all.
“They offer vital services, especially education, job opportunities and care for the most vulnerable people. We give thanks for their witness,” they said.
“We encourage Christians in our own countries to pray for and support this mission. The increase in people making pilgrimages to the Holy Land is encouraging and we call for those who come to ensure they encounter the local communities,” the communique added.
The Irish Catholic organisers regular Christian Solidarity Pilgrimages to the Holy Land. For further information please see ‘Make 2020 a year to go to the Holy Land’