Pilgrims to Holy Land Must Help Peace Efforts
21 Jul 2011 By Simon Caldwell
LONDON (CNS) Catholic and Anglican
leaders have challenged Christians to find new ways to
establish lasting peace in the Holy Land, including
changing the nature of pilgrimages.
International Christian, Jewish and Muslim
delegates at the two-day Conference on Christians in the
Holy Land, at Lambeth Palace July 18-19, considered
concrete steps that might be taken by ordinary people to
help to resolve enduring tensions that have forced millions
of Palestinian Christians to flee their homeland in the past
Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of
Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican
Communion, told a July 19 news conference at the palace,
his London residence, that the delegates had looked for a
bit of a step change in Christian involvement here with
the situation of Christians in the Holy Land, a step change
that will allow us to identify and support specific projects
As this is not just for the churches in the Holy
Land but for the communities those churches are
embedded in, we dont see this as an exclusively Christian
project, he said.
He added that the approach to pilgrimages
needed to change beyond a tourist venture to allowing
visitors to engage with the reality on the ground.
The idea that out of this conference we might
generate a new template about how pilgrimages might
look like, that has come into focus, Archbishop Williams
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster,
president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England
and Wales, told the news conference that British parishes
would be encouraged to work for peace and forgiveness,
rooted in justice, for all the people of the region.
The plan includes charitable relief work, contact
with people in the region and in the Palestinian diaspora,
and the lobbying of politicians to work for change.
He said he would like to see such work extend to
the wider community in the United Kingdom to include
leaders of other faiths.
One of the greatest characteristics of this
conference, I think, has been the sensitivity, almost the
reverence, (with) which people have spoken and listened
to each other, Archbishop Nichols said.
I think that on listening to the different voices
Jewish, Muslim and Christian this conference has
modeled some of the outcome it would like to promote,
The conference, organized by the Church of
England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales,
was attended by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of
the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The cardinal called for renewed dialogue among
followers of the Abrahamic faiths in the region, but he
also made a specific plea for the rights of the minority
Christians in the Holy Land to be guaranteed and
He said Christian communities were not founded
by missionaries sent from Rome or Constantinople but by
the apostles and were a gift to their societies because they
bring cultural openness, a sense of the dignity of the
human person and particularly of women; a conception of
freedom which harmonizes rights and privileges, and a
conception of political society which can lead to
Tags: Middle East Christians Palestine Holy Land Israel Interreligious