Photo of The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Bishop John’s Diary: Holy Land Pilgrimage

Saturday 15th April 2023

This Spring, Bishop John made a brief visit to the Holy Land, accompanying four Parliamentary Interns of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on one of their visits.

Bishop John joined the interns, along with Bishop Richard Moth and two members of staff from the Bishops’ Conference, as part of his role recruiting for the Faith in Politics internships.

Amidst reports of increasing violence and unrest, Bishop John began his diary reporting on the turbulent nature of life in modern-day Israel, writing:

“The news from Israel in recent weeks has not been good, with an increase in violence concerning the Jewish settlements. Two Jewish brothers were shot and killed in their car, which led to a very violent reprisal, threatening the destruction of a Palestinian village. There have also been missile exchanges with Gaza. Rather more alarming are the demonstrations about the intended legislation of the new right-wing government concerning the appointing of judges. This has led to large protests, particularly in Tel Aviv, over the past ten weeks. The most recent on Saturday 11th March was thought to be as many as 500,000 people. The government, under Prime Minister Netanyahu is preparing to press on with its legislative agenda next week, shunning calls for a pause to allow for negotiations on the divisive plan.

“The judicial overhaul is a cornerstone of Mr Netanyahu’s administration, an alliance with ultra-Right Wing Orthodox Jewish and extreme-right parties which took office, in coalition, at the end of last year. Critics say it threatens democracy and would result in less checks and balances.”

During their stay, the group visited a number of key sites across Jerusalem, including the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, the Pools of Bethesda, and Via Dolorosa. They also enjoyed a trip to Bethlehem, where they visited The Basilica of St Catherine, the Church of the Nativity, the Shepherds Field, and more.

Although a peaceful pilgrimage, the sense of unrest and threat of violence was evident in media reports and conversations with the residents they met, but Bishop John encourages us to have hope, and to continue offering our prayers for peace in the Holy Land and across the world.

Click here to read Bishop John’s diary.

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