Holy Land: Archbishop Kelly receives warm welcome from Palestinian Christians

 A Holy Land bishops summit co-ordinated by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales started yesterday with pastoral visits to Palestinian parishes. Archbishop Patrick Kelly, the Vice-President of the CBCEW and Archbishop of Liverpool, concelebrated Mass at Our Lady of Fatima church, Beit Sahour, Bethlehem. He preached at the Mass, which was said in a mixture of English, Arabic, Italian and Latin, and made a clear impression on the Palestinian Christians who packed the church. Archbishop Kelly said that, when he returned to Britain, the Mass would be "the memory that will remain strongest in my mind". He added that hearing the Arabic versions of the hymns 'O Come All Ye Faithful' and 'Angels We Have Heard on High' would make him think of the Palestinian people next Christmas when he heard them again in English. Archbishop Kelly was loudly applauded by the congregation when he said that wherever he travelled he would tell their story. Later, the Archbishop visited Bethlehem's Turath Centre, which supports Palestinian crafts people in making and selling religious items for churches around the world. He was again applauded and cheered after telling the audience at a Greek Orthodox Sunday School in Bethlehem that "the Pope always says the Church has two lungs - East and West. They must breathe together if we are to be faithful to our Lord." He handed out Christmas presents (the Greek Orthodox Christmas was being celebrated at the time of his visit) at the Sunday school and went on to visit the Church of the Nativity, birthplace of Christ. Afterwards, Archbishop Kelly stressed the ecumenical nature of the visit. "One group we are going to meet is churches in the Holy Land, and the Sunday School was Greek Orthodox,'" he said. "I was interested that I was applauded for talking of the two lungs of the Church. "Our meeting here has to be an affirmation of solidarity and opportunity for Christian Palestinians to know beyond doubt that their story is being told and will be shared more wholly and understood and appreciated by people who are committed to the reconciliation which is at the heart of the Gospel." The meeting, entitled 'the Universal Church in Solidarity with the Church of the Holy Land', is of 10 Bishops' Conferences and two European bishops' groupings. The meeting is with the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, whose president is His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales delegation is led by Archbishop Kelly, supported by Fr Frank Turner and Dr David Ryall, of the CBCEW International Affairs Department, and also includes Sister Margaret Scott and Rev. Nicholas Postlethwaite, of the Conference of Religious. Other bishops to be present include Bishop Wilton Gregory, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Canada, Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador, President of Caritas Latin America and Caribbean region, Bishop Bernard-Nicolas Aubertin, Bishop of Chartres in France, Bishop Reinhard Marx, President of the German Commission for Justice and Peace, Mgr Piergiuseppe Vachelli, sub-secretary, Catholic Bishops' Conference of Italy, Bishop Joan Enric Vives of Spain, Bishop William Kenney of Stickholm, representing European bishops' grouping COMECE (The Commission of the Bishops` Conferences of the European Community), and Bishop Pierre Burcher of Lausanne, Switzerland. Archbishop Kelly is also representing the European bishops` grouping CCEE (the Council of European Bishops' Conferences) at the meeting. Source: CCS

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