CCCB President Participates in Meeting on the Future of Christians in the Holy Land

Wednesday, December 12 2001

(Ottawa – CCCB) Bishop Jacques Berthelet, CSV, of Saint Jean-Longueuil, and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), will take part tomorrow in a meeting in Rome on “the future of Christians in the Holy Land”.

The meeting will be presided by Pope John Paul II who called the gathering to discuss this important question given the critical situation in the Middle East.

“By this initiative, which is of a pastoral nature,” said a Vatican official, “the Supreme Pontiff wishes to highlight once again his spiritual closeness to those peoples and to share the drama of their daily lives, too often tested by acts of violence and discrimination.”

Bishop Berthelet is among several presidents of episcopal conferences who were invited to attend along with leaders of the different Catholic Churches in Jerusalem, a number of cardinals of the Roman Curia, and Apostolic Nuncios in Jordan and Israel.

According to the Vatican Press Agency “the meeting will provide an opportunity to bear witness to the Church’s solicitude for Christians in the Holy Land, especially for the Catholic community, as well as to demonstrate a common commitment to the continuity of (the Church’s) presence in that region and to offer a specific contribution toward justice and reconciliation between all those whose faith has its roots there.”

Jerusalem Meeting in January

Early in the New Year, Bishop Berthelet, together with CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, will travel to the Holy Land to participate in a meeting of the Inter-Conference Working Group on the Holy Land. This meeting, January 21-24, will mark the second time in three years that the CCCB President has participated in such a meeting on the future of Christians in this part of the Middle East. In 1998, the then CCCB President Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal attended a similar consultation of episcopal conferences.

Peace Initiatives

The Holy Father has invited Christians around the world to take part in a day of prayer, fasting and charity on Friday, December 14. He has also invited representatives of different world religions to meet in Assisi on January 24 to discuss and pray for peace in the world.