Bishops Head to Holy Land in Support

Liverpool Prelate Condemns Violence

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BETHLEHEM, JAN. 9, 2009 ( At the head of a group of bishops arriving today in Bethlehem, the archbishop of Liverpool is affirming that violence is evil, and especially when it blocks humanitarian relief.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly affirmed this in a statement this week regarding the Israeli attack on Gaza, as the annual trip of the Holy Land Coordination was preparing to get under way. The coordination group, including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, will be in the Middle East through next Thursday.

In Archbishop Kelly’s statement, he acknowledged that the current conflict in the Gaza Strip «has deep roots, but the priority now must be the immediate end to all violence.»

«Violence is evil especially when it blocks humanitarian relief desperately needed. Because the roots are so deep and complex this outburst of violence cries out for such wise and courageous leadership that justice for all those for whom the Holy Land is home is achieved, so that all violence is relegated to the past and peace shall be secured for generations to come,» he said.

The archbishop, just as the Pope has done previously, particularly mentioned the plight of the Catholic parish in Gaza, led by Father Manuel Musallem.

«The people, religious sisters and parish priest, Father Manuel, need our prayers as they struggle to witness to the gospel of peace,» Archbishop Kelly said. «I join with the Holy Father and the leaders of the Church in the Holy Land in their prayer for the dead, the injured, the broken hearted, those who mourn and live night and day in fear.»

The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops’ conference of England and Wales. Last year, the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, renewed the mandate and thanked the Holy Land Coordination for its work in supporting the Church in the Holy Land.

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