The prelates belong to Holy Land Coordination, an association that fosters solidarity between Western and Eastern bishops. Since 1998, they have travelled to the Holy Land each year to meet the region’s religious leaders and prominent figures.
At the end of their trip yesterday, the bishops said that eight months after Benedict XVI’s visit to the region as a pilgrim of peace, “the two state solution does not seem any closer.”
In their press release, they noted that whilst many want peace, “The solutions are well known to leaders, but what is needed is political will and courage.”
The trip took the bishops to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and other places. However, it is the situation in Jerusalem that has alarmed them the most.
“There is a growing distance between Israelis and Palestinians—a lack of human contact that undermines trust and dialogue. Violence, insecurity, home demolitions, permit and visa problems, the route of the wall, expropriation of lands and other policies threaten both a two-state solution and the Christian presence.”
In their statement, the bishops also called for the “full implementation of the Fundamental Agreement” between the Holy See and the State of Israel, which has been waiting for 16 years to be put into practice. By facilitating visas for pastoral workers, it “will enable the Church to fulfil its mission.”