Archbishop launches appeal for Christians in Holy Land

The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched an appeal in aid of suffering Christians in the Holy Land.

Dr Rowan Williams appealed to Anglicans and others to give generously towards the fund that will be used to support community projects aimed at helping to sustain vulnerable Christian communities.

“We know our brothers and sisters there are suffering, and we don't always ask ourselves often enough what our response needs to be,” he said.

The funds will support Christian communities in the West Bank in particular.

The Archbishop continued: “I returned from a visit to the Holy Land last year with a very, very strong sense that we had to do more to express our solidarity with the Christian communities there.

“We know our brothers and sisters there are suffering; and we don’t always ask ourselves often enough what our response needs to be.”

The appeal has been launched ahead of a conference next week on Christians in the Holy Land that is being hosted jointly by Dr Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.

Conflict, blockades, discrimination and unemployment have all played their part in making life difficult for Christians in the Holy Land.

Around 200,000 Christians live in Israel and the Palestinian Territories but many have left their homeland for a more secure life abroad.

In a video posted to YouTube, the Archbishops speak of the strain on Christians in the region.

Dr Williams said: “The rate of emigration from Christian populations in the Holy Land has been growing steadily for a long time.

“It’s now really reaching a proportion where one can talk about a haemorrhage of populations from there.”

Archbishop Nichols said: “People are leaving, Christians are leaving, and we want to say the Christian presence in the Holy Land is important to its balance, to not just its historical reality but to its presence and future viability.”