EU Bishops' Aide Says Europe Needs Holy Land Visit

Delegation of Prelates Makes Annual Tour

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LONDON, JAN. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The annual visit that European and North American bishops make to the Holy Land is under way through Thursday, and meetings with the region's presidents are scheduled for Wednesday.



The five-day visit is being made by 26 prelates and representatives, including the Council of European Episcopal Conferences general secretary, Father Duarte da Cunha.

"With this visit, the European bishops want to express their desire to better understand and share the problems of the peoples in those territories and at the same time to offer a tangible sign of the closeness that our Churches have towards the Christians of the Holy Land and their friendship towards the Israeli and Palestinian peoples," he said.

The priest characterized the visit as a time to "listen, with humility, to the joys and hopes, the needs and difficulties, not only of the various Christian and Catholic communities present in the Holy Land, but also of the Israeli and Palestinian populations."

"The Church in Europe needs this type of encounter to build bridges of solidarity and hope with the Christian communities in the Palestinian territories and in Israel and to better determine the type of interventions in support of our Christian brothers and sisters," Father da Cunha affirmed.

The delegation began its visit in Gaza and the West Bank.

The program brings them to the University of Bethlehem and Beit Safa Seminary.

Wednesday, they are scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres and President Mahmud Abbas.

The visit concludes Thursday in Jerusalem with a celebration at the Holy Sepulcher and a press conference.