Following the Holy Land Co-ordination 2020, the International group of bishops that visited the Holy Land have issued a statement. Participation included Bishop Noel Treanor of Down & Connor and Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ of Raphoe.
Bishops said, “In their recent powerful message, the local Catholic Bishops lamented the international community’s failure to help realise justice and peace here in the place of Christ’s birth. Our governments must do more to meet their responsibilities for upholding international law and protecting human dignity. In some cases, they have become actively complicit in the evils of conflict and occupation.
“In the same message, the local bishops have sounded the alarm about living conditions becoming “more and more unbearable”. This is painfully clear in the West Bank where our sisters and brothers are denied even basic rights including freedom of movement. In Gaza, the political decisions of all sides have resulted in the creation of an open-air prison, human rights abuses and a profound humanitarian crisis. We were welcomed by families whose focus is now day-to-day survival and whose aspirations have been reduced to bare essentials such as electricity and clean water.”
Bishops acknowledged the sacrifice of religious sisters, lay people and priests who are striving to build a better future for all in the Holy Land, thanking them for their “vital services, especially education, job opportunities and care for the most vulnerable people.”
Bishops continued, “We encourage Christians in our own countries to pray for and support this mission. The increase in people making pilgrimages to the Holy Land is encouraging and we call for those who come to ensure they encounter the local communities.
“At the same time, we implore our governments to help build a new political solution rooted in human dignity for all. While this must ultimately be shaped by the peoples of the Holy Land in dialogue, there is an urgent need for our countries to play their part by:
– Insisting upon the application of international law;
– Following the Holy See’s lead in recognising the State of Palestine;
– Addressing the security concerns of Israel and the right of all to live in safety;
– Rejecting political or economic support for settlements;
– and, resolutely opposing acts of violence or abuses of human rights by any side.”
In conclusion, bishops said “We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”