Holy Land Coordination in 2017: 50 years of occupation
Copyright Catholic Church England and Wales
The Holy Land Coordination, comprising representatives of episcopal conferences from various countries of the world, was established at the invitation of the Holy See at the end of the twentieth century in order to visit and support the local Christian communities of the Holy Land. This year, the visit of the Coordination took place January 14 to 19 preceded by two days of a group delegation in Gaza. Msgr. William Nolan, bishop of Galloway (Scotland), commenting on the difficulty of the situation in the Gaza Strip with the limitations to freedom, the still visible debris and few prospects, noted that "in this situation the actions of the local Christian community acquires social relevance, through schools, a hospital, with the material help of many benefactors ", thereby supporting the solidarity work that many carry forward for the entire population starting with the small Christian community.
The general program of the Coordination began on the eve of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees celebrated by Msgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa in St. Anthony's church in Jaffa. The words of the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, referring to the tens of thousands of Christian migrants in the territory of Israel were particularly poignant: "You are an integral part of our Church in the Holy Land. You are a sign of the beauty, diversity and universality of the Church. "
This year the Coordination’s program was underpinned by the 50 years of occupation. They visited the city of Hebron, the only Palestinian city that has a Jewish settlement at its center with a few hundred settlers, whose presence has imposed severe restrictions of movement for the Palestinian population, the closure of businesses and abandonment of houses. Speaking on the sidelines of a visit organized by the Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence" which brings together former Israeli military and aims to raise awareness about the abuses suffered by Palestinians, Msgr. Riccardo Fontana, Archbishop of Arezzo, confesses that he saw a "desperate and resigned people". "Israelis and Palestinians suffer greatly, some for fear of attacks by the occupying military, but I think they are two peoples who want and have the right to peace. We must help them in this direction, even with solidarity, closeness and prayer".
In fact, the final communiqué of the Coordination, published on 19 January, focuses on the responsibility that everyone has towards this situation and we can read it below: