The Holy See supports the Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination composed of Catholic Bishops conferences and members of large organizations such as our Order, whose mission can be summarized by the “four P’s”:
- an ongoing Presence of Christians in the Holy Land;
- Pilgrimage to encourage Christians under threat there;
- Prayer for the Lord’s protection and Our Lady of Palestine’s intercession;
- Pleading with governments to recognize the right of Christians in the Holy Land.
A good summary of our Catholic Church’s commitment to Christianity’s fragile future there. But so few world leaders seem to be listening. Among all world leaders, Pope Francis most often takes up the cause of all inhabitants of that Land through frequent references in his audiences and addresses, his historic visit there in May 2014 and the followup bringing together the Presidents of Israel and Palestine in the Vatican for the cause of justice in the Land.
By far, the most consistent, meaningful support and promotion of religious freedom and peace in the Holy Land is evidenced by the educational and charitable commitment of our Order of the Holy Sepulchre and similar Catholic missions.
The recent words of the first female Catholic mayor of embattled Bethlehem might serve as worthy and valuable reminders to all the members of our Order of our robust promotion in the “Four P’s”: “I know that members of the Order are highly connected to the Holy Land. I see them frequently in Bethlehem and I fully appreciate all that you do. Keeping hope and helping people to remain here is something crucial and this is what you are doing.”
May we continue to give evidence of our presence in Bethlehem and the rest of those lands under such severe stress, assuring our fellow Christians there of our full solidarity in their efforts to keep our Faith alive in the Land where it began.
Cardinal Edwin O’Brien
(April 22, 2016)