On today’s ‘Catholic News’ podcast we’re joined by the long-term chair of what’s called the Holy Land Co-ordination – a prayerful annual pilgrimage of bishops from around the world to the land of Christ’s life and ministry.
Bishop Declan Lang, Catholic Bishop of Clifton, like his fellow delegates, had to engage in this year’s pilgrimage remotely due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The bishops met from 16 – 21 January online.
They heard time and again, particularly when discussing the current realities in Gaza, how Church-run organisations like hospitals, schools and charities, are punching well above their weight serving the wider community beyond the church walls. In Gaza, for example, the Catholic organisation Caritas facilitates 61% of all healthcare home visits in this Palestinian territory of 2m people. There are only 1,077 Christians in that number – of which 132 are Latin Catholics.
“It’s the model of the church as servant, as a servant to people in need,” syas Bishop Declan. “This love of neighbour is a very practical form of Christianity. Perhaps that’s what we need in the Church in Western Europe – to become a ‘servant church’ – a church that is there to serve the wider community and its needs.”
Bishop Declan Lang also talks about the prospect of peace in the region and where, despite the bleak outlook, we can find hope for the future.