JERUSALEM (CNS) — Bishops from North America, Europe and South Africa who joined this year’s Holy Land Coordination reiterated their solidarity with all of Israel’s Christians and called for their equal inclusion in Israeli society.
“Throughout our visit, we have experienced how there are Israeli citizens from many different backgrounds who coexist and work together for the common good of their society. We recognize that Israel was founded on the stated principles of equality between all its citizens. This urgently needs to become the lived reality,” they said in the final statement, issued Jan. 18. “We stand with Israel’s Christians and all those challenging discrimination, in support of their call to protect the country’s pluralism.”
The nation-state law, which was passed as one of Israel’s Basic Laws by the Israeli Knesset last July, holds Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and states that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” In addition, it downgrades Arabic from Israel’s second official language to one with a “special” status. Though the law will have little short-term effect, opponents are concerned about its long-term impact, which will depend on the character of future Israeli governments and how they choose to implement the law within government policy. Though Israel has already historically defined itself as the Jewish homeland, opponents say by enshrining it into a Basic Law, they have been effectively relegated to second-class citizens.
Taking place this year in the northern Israeli city of Haifa Jan. 12-17, the coordination focused on the challenges and opportunities for Christians in Israel. The bishops visited Christian hospitals, schools and villages in Israel. They also met with Christian religious leaders, Christian mayors from Israeli towns, members of the Israeli Knesset, academics and people displaced from the Melkite Catholic village of Ikrit.
In their statement, the bishops also noted the deepening humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in the West Bank due to cuts in humanitarian funding by the U.S. administration.
“Health care, education and other basic services for refugees are being increasingly threatened, exacerbating the ongoing violations of their fundamental human dignity. This cannot be ignored or tolerated,” they said in the statement. “We call upon our own governments to help meet the funding gaps now faced by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency and redouble their efforts toward a diplomatic solution, with two democratic sovereign states of Israel and Palestine existing in peace.”
They expressed their admiration of the Christians of the Holy Land for not giving up hope and committed themselves to keeping the hope alive “through prayer, pilgrimage and practical solidarity.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103