Faith Matters

Bishop McKeown on pilgrimage to Holy Land

Bishop Donal McKeown during a meeting this week with Christian young people from Bethlehem

BISHOP of Derry Dr Donal McKeown will be the Irish representative in an international group of clergy when Mass is celebrated today in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

He has been in the Holy Land this week as part of a delegation from the Holy Land Co-ordination which has been meeting with young Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

The bishops also met the Parents Circle - Families Forum, a body which brings together more than 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost a relation in the conflict and who today support peace, reconciliation and tolerance.

"A key purpose of our pilgrimage is to remind the Christian communities in the Holy Land that they are not forgotten by their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world," said Dr McKeown.

The annual visit was set up 20 years ago at the invitation of the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting - through pilgrimage, prayer and persuasion - the Holy Land's Christian communities as they experience life in Israel and Palestine.

Among the visiting group are Catholic bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa. One Church of England bishop is part of the delegation.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is home to two of the most important sites in Christianity: Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the empty tomb, from which he was resurrected.

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