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Bishops from across Europe and North America will meet in the Holy Land over the coming days to promote dialogue and peace, with a pastoral focus on Christians in Gaza, East Jerusalem and Ramallah.

This annual visit was set up over 20 years ago at the invitation of the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting the Holy Land’s local Christian communities as they experience the political and socio-economic realities of living in Israel and Palestine.

The bishops will be based in Ramallah with an overnight visit to Gaza. This year the HLC20 will celebrate Sunday Mass on 12 January with the small Christian community in Gaza. This Christmas, the Israeli government prevented Gazan Christians from visiting Bethlehem or families and relatives in the West Bank so the bishops were determined to go to Gaza and remind the small Christian community that they are not forgotten as Christians from the bishops’ home countries continue to pray for all Gazans and for an end to the conflict. This visible act of solidarity will be followed by a visit to the House of Peace run by the Missionaries of Charity; meetings with young people, visits to Christian parishioners and a pastoral visit to the sick in the community.

The bishops will also meet with young people in both Jerusalem and Ramallah to listen to their hopes and experiences as they grow up in this divided society. Archbishop Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator to the Latin Patriarchate, and Nuncio Archbishop Girelli will meet with the bishops to discuss the current situation.

In addition to planned meetings with Palestinian and Israeli officials, there will also be visits to East Jerusalem and the Comboni sisters in Bethany, as well as the school and parish in Ramallah.