Youthful hope amidst failure of political leadership, say bishops of Holy Land Co-ordination
Political leaders are failing the youth of the Holy Land, the Bishops of the 2018 Holy Land Co-ordination have warned.
In a statement they said that political leaders are failing the youth ‘through their inability to promote dialogue in the search for a solution to the conflict and by presiding over an economy that is not offering job opportunities and has led to a housing shortage’.
However, they added, that the youngsters ‘continue to hope and dream of a better future’.
Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa came to listen to young Palestinians and Israelis as they expressed their hopes and fears for the future.
The visiting Bishops make up the Holy Land Co-ordination, mandated by the Holy See, focusing on prayer, pilgrimage and advocacy for justice and peace with the aim of acting in solidarity with the Christian community there and sharing in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences intense political and socio-economic pressure.
This year the bishops met from 13th to 18th January with a specific focus on meeting young people.
‘This failure by political leadership, both locally and internationally, has been exacerbated recently by ever more divisive language and actions,’ they said.
The bishops pointed to the threat to any prospect of peace by morally and legally unacceptable decisions – in particular the recent affront to the internationally recognised status of Jerusalem.
In their final communique, the bishops speak of the devastating effects of over 50 years of occupation and conflict on young lives also blighted by unemployment, lack of housing and opportunity. In Gaza, which continues to be a shocking scandal and an injustice that cries out for a resolution, the blockade continues to rob young people of the opportunity to flourish as they remain trapped by the wall.
Across the West Bank young people suffer violations of their dignity on a daily basis, which have become unacceptably normalised by occupation.
Meanwhile, many of the young Israelis met by the bishops also recognised the distorting effect on their lives of a conflict they did not create and do not want.
And yet both young Palestinians and Israelis are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of the failure of older generations, the bishops said. The bishops heard young people from all sides who share the same aspirations for peaceful coexistence, yet are facing completely different realities.
The bishops said that one of the major issues is the lack of opportunities for the youth divided by a wall to ever meet or understand each other’s hopes and fears.
After visiting Gaza, where the Christian population has fallen to 1,000, of whom 150 are Catholics, the bishops met with schoolchildren in the West Bank and in Israel, along with students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and those attending courses run by Bethlehem University. They also visited l’Arche in Bethlehem and the home for the elderly in Beit Emmaus, where young volunteers assist in the care for the disabled and elderly.
Despite the many and manifest problems and injustices, the bishops saw glimpses of light within the darkness. Inspired by the resilience and action of many young people alongside those active in promoting a better future through dialogue and caring for others, the bishops concluded their final communique with a call for the communities in their own countries to act in solidarity with those in the Holy Land through supporting organisations which help to create jobs, provide housing, and facilitate dialogue; through prayer and making pilgrimages which encounter and support local people; and through standing resolutely against all those who seek to create further division.
Picture: Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster Nicholas Hudson chats with Palestinian nursing students from Bethlehem University during a 17th January visit to the Beit Emmaus Home for the elderly and disabled in Qubeibeh, West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill).Tags: Holy Land, Holy Land Co-ordination, Israelis, Palestinians