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Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination will be making their annual visit in support of Christians in Israel and Palestine next week. This year, they will be focusing on the theme: “Christians in Israel; challenges and opportunities.”

The Holy Land Coordination is made up of Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa, who have made an annual pastoral visit to Israel and Palestine for the past 20 years.

The Coordination’s annual meeting is taking place from 12th-17th January. The meeting will be held in the City of Haifa, including visits to Christian hospitals, schools and villages. The bishops will also take part in Inter-faith encounters.

Bishop Declan Lang, chair of the Holy Land Coordination said: “We have come to stand in solidarity with Christian communities in the Holy Land, who are an important part of our family and make a rich contribution to society, both in Israel and Palestine, as we will see in visits to Christian schools, hospitals and in dialogue with local politicians.”

On the Sunday the Coordination will travel to the Palestinian town of Zababdeh to celebrate Mass with the local community. Zababdeh, where three quarters of the population is Christian, is located in the poor, under-developed and often overlooked Northern Region of the West Bank.

While the Holy Land Coordination is not a fund-raising or project-based body, considerable development investment and growth in pilgrimages have developed directly as a result of the bishops’ visits. Prayer is the framework of the annual meeting, with daily celebration of the Eucharist, often in different rites.

The bishops visit Catholic communities and share in their Sunday liturgy, meeting with them. In difficult times, the visiting bishops have often heard pleas for more pilgrims to come from their home countries, and there has been a concerted and successful effort on the part of bishops’ conferences to encourage pilgrimages, assisting many whose livelihoods depend on pilgrims.

The bishops also speak at a high-level to their own governments, parliamentarians, Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors and the media about a wide range of issues affecting the lives of Christians. In line with the approach the Holy See adopts everywhere else, the bishops do not seek privileges for Christians, but dignity and justice for them and for others in similar conflicts.

The bishops are present every year, and through their presence they hope, above all else, to remind the “living stones” of the Christian communities in the Holy Land that they are not forgotten by their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.

Holy Land Coordination Bishops:  

Rt Rev Stephen Ackermann, Bishop of Trier, Germany     

Most Rev Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa

Most Rev Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Rt Rev Peter Burcher,  Bishop Emeritus of Reykjavik, Iceland

Rt Rev Rodolfo Cetoloni, Bishop of Grosseto, Italy

Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, The Church of England

Rt Rev Kevin Dowling, Co-President Pax Christi International, South Africa

Rt Rev Michel Dubost, Bishop Emeritus of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes, France

Rt Rev Lionel Gendron, Bishop of St. Jean Longueuil, Quebec, Canada

Rt Rev Felix Gmur, Bishop of Basel, Switzerland

Rt Rev William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, England & Wales

Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, England & Wales

Rt Rev Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe, Ireland

Rt Rev William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway, Scotland

Rt Rev Jose Ornelas Carvalho, Bishop of Setubal, Portugal

Rt Rev Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, Ireland

Most Rev Joan Enric Vives Sicilia, Archbishop of Urgell, Spain