Israeli Appeals for Christian Pilgrimages to Holy Land

Says It Is Vital That Catholic Community Not Vanish

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

JERUSALEM, NOV. 4, 2004 ( Gideon Ezra, Israel’s minister of internal security and tourism, appealed to Christians to resume their pilgrimages to the holy places, because they are «a help for peace.»

The Israeli minister made his appeal during an extended meeting with Catholic journalists on the occasion of the Spanish episcopal conference’s institutional pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Ezra recalled that John Paul II «has appealed to all Catholic Christians worldwide to visit the Holy Land,» and that «one of the main reasons for the Pope’s appeal is, in fact, the situation of the Catholic community of the Holy Land, in need of help.»

«Any means of helping this community is welcome for us as members of the state of Israel,» Ezra said. «For us it is very important that these communities, not only don’t disappear but that they be strengthened, because over the last years the number of Catholics has decreased very much, especially in Bethlehem.»

In regard to the isolation of Christians residing in Bethlehem, the minister said that «it would be a joy for us to be able to return to the situation prior to September of 2000, when movement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem was completely free. But since that time, the not-so-agreeable visits of terrorists have led to the present situation.»

«The more pilgrims, the more job-permits, the more freedom of movement,» he said, «the more the growth of the economy is promoted, both the Palestinian as well as the Israeli.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation