WASHINGTON – Ten bishops made a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land on January 18 – 27, 2018. In reflections issued at the conclusion of the Pilgrimage, they noted the “many walls and some bridges” they encountered as they “sought out those on the peripheries.” The visit, had as its theme, “Bridges, Not Walls,” to help connect the bishops’ domestic experiences of walls on the U.S. southern border to the reality of walls in the Holy Land.
They offer a number of reflections regarding their visit, including:
In Sderot, the city that has suffered the most from rocket attacks by Hamas, the bishops noted “they encountered the real fears of Israelis who grieve for the loss of lives,” and also expressed great concern for their children who are “regularly required to practice air raid drills.”
In addition to visiting Jerusalem, Nazareth, and many holy sites, where they celebrated daily Eucharist, the bishops traveled to Gaza and Jiffna in the Palestinian Territories to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist with “small, vibrant Christian communities.”
They traveled extensively in the West Bank, including to Hebron, Susya and Bethlehem, witnessing firsthand the “stark reminders of the Israeli occupation—check-points that inhibit movement, confiscations of Palestinian lands, expansion of Israeli settlements, and a security barrier whose route cuts deep into the West Bank, which together with Israeli-only bypass roads, strangles natural urban growth and divides the Palestinian Territories into non-contiguous cantons.”