Sunday, January 12, 2014

Holy Land Pilgrimage: Bishop Kenney talks of his hopes and fears

A delegation of Catholic Bishops from Europe, North America and South Africa on Saturday began its annual 5-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, aimed at showing solidarity with Christians living in the region. 

Known as the Holy Land Coordination, the Bishops will be visiting Jerusalem, Gaza and Bethlehem to meet members of ocal Christian communities and those involved in the Church’s pastoral work in the area.

Among those taking part in this year’s pilgrimage is William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, in the UK, who previously led the pilgrimage for 12 years. He spoke to Susy Hodges about his expectations concerning this year’s visit. 

Bishop Kenney says his “hopes” are that this pilgrimage “will encourage the Christian people we meet in Gaza and other places.” 

At the same time, he has “fears” because “the situation in the Holy Land is getting worse and there’s less hope than there was (in the past).” 

Asked about the upcoming visit to the Holy Land by Pope Francis in late May, Bishop Kenney says “it will raise expectations” among the Christian community for a resolution of some long-standing problems.

The focus of this year’s pilgrimage is on the small Christian community in Gaza and he explains that the Bishops took this decision because “it’s one of the places most endangered and where people are suffering most.” Bishop Kenney says the Bishops want to encourage anything which “brings people together” in this troubled region.

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