01/13/2011, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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European and North American bishops complain Israel-Holy See negotiations dragging on

The Holy Land Co-ordination complains that “the Pope’s words during his visit in 2009 to allow ease of movement for Catholic clergy and Religious seem to have gone unheard.” The bishops tell Christians from around the world “that every visit to the Holy Land brings benefits both to pilgrims and the people who live here, especially the Christian community.”
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Holy Land Co-ordination, which brings together bishops from Europe and North America, held its 11th meeting in Jerusalem where it met with local political and religious leaders. In their final communiqué, the bishops acknowledged a number of positive developments but also some negative elements in the region’s situation. They also outlined their commitment for future actions. One of them is to encourage Christians from around the world to visit the Holy Land in pilgrimage. “We believe that every visit to the Holy Land brings benefits both to pilgrims and the people who live here, especially the Christian community,” the statement read.

In their strong-worded appeal, the bishops called on Israel to conclude the negotiations with the Holy See on the status of religious communities. “Despite some tangible improvements in the visa allocation, we have once again been made painfully aware of the frustration felt by some Catholic clergy and Religious whose daily tasks are made difficult by restrictions on their movement. Our brother Bishops have told us with sadness that the Pope’s words during his visit in 2009 to allow ease of movement for Catholic clergy and Religious seem to have gone unheard. We strongly urge a conclusion to the lengthy negotiations between the Holy See and the State of Israel.”

The bishops are indeed aware of the difficulties of living in the Holy Land, “of the suffering of those people whose marriages are put under enormous strain by the demands of “security” and religious differences, by individuals and communities whose land and property has been damaged or taken from them, including by the route and construction of the wall, and by the people whose lives are made so difficult by the situation where they live in Gaza.”

Even though Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad told the bishops that more Palestinians are returning than leaving, the former “are deeply concerned at too many cases where people’s dignity is ignored or insulted.”

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