VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Concerned for Christians in the Holy Land, John Paul II will preside over a meeting of Christian leaders of the region, to be held in the Vatican this Thursday.
The news was confirmed in a statement today by Vatican Press Office director Joaquín Navarro-Valls.
The meeting, whose topic is "The Future of Christians in the Holy Land," will gather the most important representatives of that region, along with the Vatican secretary of state, Roman Curia aides, and presidents of episcopal conferences especially concerned about this matter.
Among those coming to Rome are Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. bishops' conference; Bishop Jacques Berthelet, president of the Canadian episcopal conference; Bishop Amédée Grab, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences; and Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, president of the Latin American bishops' council.
From the Holy Land will arrive Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem; Syrian-Catholic Patriarch Ignace Pierre; Maronite Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayah of Haifa and the Holy Land; and Franciscan Father Giovanni Battistelli, of the Holy Land Custody.
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio in Israel and apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, and Archbishop Fernando Filoni, apostolic nuncio in Iraq and Jordan, will also attend.
According to the Vatican spokesman, the meeting will be of a "pastoral character."
It was called by the Pope to "confirm once again, in this delicate situation, his spiritual closeness with the populations of the Holy Land and share the drama of their daily life, too often tested by acts of violence and discrimination," Navarro-Valls stated.
He reported that the purpose of the meeting is "to manifest a common
commitment in favor of the continuity of the millennial presence of the
Catholic community in that region, and to offer an appropriate contribution
to justice and reconciliation among those whose faith is deeply rooted
in those places."