Vincent Nichols remembers Bethlehem at Christmas

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has offered his prayers for Palestinians who face losing their land in the New Year.

The parish of Beit Jala is taking legal action in a bid to stop Israeli authorities expropriating their land.

In his homily at Midnight Mass, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said more than 50 families face losing their land and their homes on the land, which lies in the path of the separation wall.

“We are to be freshly attentive to the needs of those who, like Jesus himself, are displaced and in discomfort,” he said.

“We are to see more clearly all those things which disfigure our world, the presence of the sins of greed and arrogance, of self-centred ambition and manipulation of others, of the brutal lack of respect for human life in all its vulnerability.”

He continued: “[A] shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight … We pray for them tonight.”

The Archbishop used his sermon to challenge people to put their faith into action.

An awareness of God’s unfailing love, he said, brings with it “responsibility and obligation”.

“There is, with faith, an accompanying question: ‘What am I to do?’,” he said.

“Tonight let us renew that gift of faith. Let us celebrate its joy, its comfort and its challenge. Let us be ready to play our part in word and deed.”