Bishops tell Christians of Gaza: 'You are not alone'
Published 10 January 2012
Catholic bishops from Europe and North America are in Gaza this week to encourage the local church.
They have already met parishioners, who told of how the economic blockade and security situation continues to make work and freedom of movement "extremely difficult" for them.
In spite of the challenges, the Catholic Church is actively supporting the community through a home for the elderly, a centre for the disabled, and a kindergarten.
In a mass to mark the start of this year's Holy Land Coordination in support of the local church, the bishops offered messages of support from their respective countries.
Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop in Birmingham told the parishioners:
“What I want to say to you is ‘you are not forgotten’.”
Bishop Michel Dubost, Bishop of Evry, in Paris said: “Today everyone in my diocese is praying for you as they know we are making this visit. Last week, I asked prisoners in the largest prison in Europe (in Evry) to pray for you.”
The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco said Christians were called to act and live as Christians at all times.
“This is a faith that should always inspire us to act in love. Jesus inspires us to overcome difficulties in life and this shared celebration is a signal of hope," he said.
“You are not alone and with faith in the Lord we can together overcome difficulties."
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has organised an annual meeting in support of the Church of the Holy Land every year since 1998.
It maintains a particular focus on prayer and pilgrimage, and is intended as an act of solidarity with the Christian community in the midst of political and socio-economic pressure.
The meeting got underway in earnest yesterday. The agenda includes presentations from Israelis and Palestinians about the impact of the Arab Spring and socio-political changes in the region.
On Tuesday, the bishops will travel to Haifa, where there will be an inter-religious exchange with Jews, Muslims, Druze and Bahai.
They will meet Israeli and Palestinian ministers before the meeting concludes on Thursday.