Following on from last year's meeting with refugees in Jordan, the annual visit by the Holy Land Co-ordination (HLC2017) will begin on Saturday 14 January, the eve of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, with a day devoted to the situation of Christian migrants and refugees present in Israel.
On the Saturday morning in Jaffa, the group of European, North American and South African bishops, who since the 1990s have been making an annual visit to the Christian communities present in the Holy Land, will participate in the traditional 'Mass of the Peoples' animated by the various national communities present in Israel. In the afternoon, the bishops of the HLC2017 will transfer to Tel Aviv where they will visit the Pastoral Centre for Migrants.
Over the next few days, from their base in Bethlehem, the members of the HLC2017 will tackle the theme of the 50 years of occupation with a visit to Hebron and East Jerusalem, examining in depth the current situation in the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, visiting initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect, such as the Tent of Nations.
The working days, marked by opportunities for prayer and the daily celebration of Mass with various Catholic parishes in the Bethlehem district, should include meetings wit local bishops of the Holy Land, teaching and administrative staff and students of Bethlehem University, diplomats and those in charge of Catholic charities.
To mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the afternoon of Wednesday 18 January will be entirely devoted to ecumenical dialogue with a meeting of local Christian leaders in the Holy Land, and at 1700 there will be prayer in the Anglican Cathedral of St George in Jerusalem.
The HLC2017 will be preceded by a two-day visit (12-13 January) by part of the delegation to the small Christian community of Gaza.
Accompanying the European bishops and representing the Council of European Episcopal Conferences will be Mgr Duarte da Cunha, General Secretary of CCEE.
The following bishops will be participating in the Holy Land Co-ordination:
His Lordship Mgr Declan Lang (Clifton, England and Wales - Coordinator)
His Lordship Mgr Lionel Gendron (Saint-Jean, Canada)
His Lordship Mgr Michel Dubost (Evry, France)
His Lordship Mgr Stephen Ackermann (Trier, Germany)
His Grace Mgr Riccardo Fontana (Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro, Italy)
His Lordship Mgr Pierre Bürcher (Iceland)
His Lordship Mgr William Nolan (Galloway, Scotland)
His Grace Mgr Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia (Urgell, Spain)
His Lordship Mgr Dr Felix Gmür (Basel, Switzerland)
His Lordship Mgr Oscar Cantu (La Cruces, USA)
His Lordship Mgr William Kenney (Birmingham, England and Wales)
His Lordship Mgr Nicholas Hudson (Westminster, England and Wales) - COMECE
The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun (Church of England)