HOLY LAND -The Holy Land Co-ordination, comprising bishops coming from across Europe, North America and South Africa,  established by the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting the Holy Land’s local Christian communities, will arrive on next Saturday, January 14, 2017, for its annual visit, until January 19. Below is the program of the five days. 

Following on from the HLC2016 meeting with refugees in Jordan, the annual meeting of the Holy Land Co-ordination (HLC2017) will begin on Saturday 14 January, the eve of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, with a day devoted to the situation of Christian migrants and refugees present in Israel. On the Saturday morning in Jaffa, the group of European, North American and South African bishops, who since the 1990s have been making an annual visit to the Christian communities present in the Holy Land, will participate in the traditional “Mass of the Peoples” animated by the various national communities present in Israel. In the afternoon, the bishops of the HLC2017 will transfer to Tel Aviv where they will visit the Pastoral Centre for Migrants.

Over the next few days, from their base in Bethlehem, the members of the HLC2017 will tackle the theme of the 50 years of occupation with a visit to Hebron and East Jerusalem, examining in depth the current situation in the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, visiting initiatives aimed at promoting the dialogue and mutual respect, such as the Tent of Nations. The working days, marked by opportunities for prayer and the daily celebration with the various Catholic parishes in the Bethlehem district, envisages meetings with the local bishops of the Holy Land, the teaching and administrative staff and the students of Bethlehem University, diplomats and those in charge of Catholic charitable bodies. To mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the afternoon of Wednesday 18 January will be entirely devoted to ecumenical dialogue with a meeting of local Christian leaders in the Holy Land, and at 17:00 there will be prayer in the Anglican Cathedral of St George in Jerusalem.

The HLC2017 will be preceded by a two-day visit (12-13 January) by part of the delegation to the small Christian community of Gaza.

Accompanying the European bishops and representing the Council of European Episcopal Conferences will be Mgr Duarte da Cunha, General Secretary of CCEE.

The following bishops will be participating in the Holy Land Co-ordination:
His Lordship Mgr Declan Lang (Clifton, England and Wales – Coordinator)
His Lordship Mgr Lionel Gendron (Saint-Jean, Canada)
His Lordship Mgr Michel Dubost (Evry, France)
His Lordship Mgr Stephen Ackermann (Trier, Germany)
His Grace Mgr Riccardo Fontana (Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro, Italy)
His Lordship Mgr Pierre Bürcher (Iceland)
His Lordship Mgr William Nolan (Galloway, Scotland)
His Grace Mgr Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia (Urgell, Spain)
His Lordship Mgr Dr. Felix Gmür (Basel, Switzerland)
His Lordship Mgr Oscar Cantu (La Cruces, USA)
His Lordship Mgr William Kenney (Birmingham, England and Wales)
His Lordship Mgr Nicholas Hudson (Westminster, England and Wales) – COMECE
The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun (Church of England)

THE HOLY LAND COORDINATION – Additional information

The Holy Land Co-ordination, comprising bishops coming from across Europe, North America and South Africa, was established at the end of the 20th century at the invitation of the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting the Holy Land’s local Christian communities.
The Co-ordination’s raison d’être can be expressed through the “3 Ps”: Prayer, Pilgrimage, Persuasion.
Prayer is the framework within which the annual meeting takes place, with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, often in different Rites and with the local Catholic communities.
Pilgrimage is one of the most interesting and informative aspects of the annual gathering. The bishops go individually or in groups to visit the Catholic communities, meeting their members and at times local political figures, too. In difficult times, the visiting bishops have often listened to requests for a greater presence of pilgrims, and there has been a concerted and successful effort on the part of the Bishops’ Conferences to encourage pilgrimages.
Persuasion refers to the work to be undertaken after the annual meeting, when the bishops return home and speak to their own Governments, Members of Parliament, Israeli and Palestinian Ambassadors and to the media about a vast range of questions which concern the lives of Christians. In line with the approach adopted by the Holy See elsewhere, the bishops do not seek privileges for Christians, but dignity and justice for them and for others who live in similar conflict situations. Perhaps there should be a fourth P: Presence. The bishops are present every year, and by their presence they hope, above everything 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.
Further information (program, list of participants) are available on CCEE website.

Picture : © LPJ, Holy Land Coordination 2016, Archives.

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