The Catholic Church in the Middle East

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Following the work undertaken at the Special Assembly for the Middle East (10-24 October 2010), the annual visit to the Holy Land (Israel and Palestinian Territories) of a delegation of about thirty bishops and representatives from European and North American Bishops’ Conferences and church organisations will take place from 9-13 January 2011.

The meeting is organised by the Co-ordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land (known by the abbreviation Holy Land Co-ordination: HLC 2011). This year, too, the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) is supporting the initiative and will be represented by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tiranë-Durrës, Mgr Rrok Mirdita, President of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference.

The delegation will begin its meeting with a pilgrimage to the banks of the Jordan on Sunday 9 January, and a visit to the city of Jericho. Subsequently, in the course of their work, various themes will be tackled: daily ecumenism in Jerusalem; religious freedom in Israel and the Palestinian Territories; the works of the Bilateral Permanent Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel; inter-religious dialogue with Islam and Judaism; education towards dialogue in Israeli and Palestinian schools; charity: way of dialogue and witness; religious life in the Holy Land and pilgrims: instruments of peace and reconciliation. Each of the topics will be introduced by expert speakers.

The days will be marked by numerous moments of prayer and meetings with local communities. The visit will end on Thursday 13 January in Jerusalem with a celebration at the Holy Sepulchre presided over by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Mgr Fouad Twal, and a News Conference. Participants include His Grace Mgr Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; and Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., Custodian of the Holy Land.

photo: catholicchurch.org.uk

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