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WASHINGTON—Noting the deteriorating prospects for peace in the Holy Land, representatives of bishops' conferences from several countries, including the United States, acknowledged the struggle of the young people they met but called them the "hope for a better future."
The bishops made their annual solidarity visit to the Holy Land January 13 – 18, 2018. They visited Gaza, met with school children there and in the West Bank and in Israel as well as with students at Hebrew University and Bethlehem University. They also visited l'Arche in Bethlehem and a home of the elderly in Beit Emmaus.
In a communique issued at the end of their visit, the bishops cited the many challenges (unemployment, discrimination, and lack of opportunity) faced by youth, particularly those living in the West Bank and Gaza. But in their discussions with Israeli youth, the bishops found that many shared with their Palestinian counterparts the "same aspirations for peaceful coexistence."
For the bishops, it was clear that it is the youth from West Bank, Gaza and Israel who are resilient and courageous in keeping alive the hope for a peaceful resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops along with bishops from other nations on this solidarity visit have long decried violence as a way to resolve conflict but instead strongly supported a two-state solution in which a secure Israel coexists with a viable and independent Palestinian state.
The bishops called on communities in their respective countries to act in solidarity with youth who have an essential role in promoting peace through actions such as prayer, and supporting programs that create jobs, provide housing and foster dialogue.
The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land. Bishops representing Europe, North America, and South Africa participated in this visit.
The bishops' statement is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/holy-land-coordination-communique-january-2018.cfm
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Holy Land, Gaza, West Bank, Israel, Bethlehem, L'Arche, Beit Emmaus, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, youth, violence, independent Palestinian state, dialogue
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