WASHINGTON--Bishops from Europe, South Africa and North America, gathered in the Holy Land for an annual meeting, said that hope is needed to bring lasting peace to the Holy Land, January 15. Eleven countries made up the 2014 Co-Ordination of Bishops' Conference in support of the Church in the Holy Land, which issues an annual statement following their meeting.
"We urge public officials to become leaders of hope, not people of obstruction," the bishops wrote. They cited the words of Pope Francis encouraging peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and expressed hope that Pope Francis' visit to the Holy Land in May will promote hope in the region.
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the gathering.
The bishops wrote that they were encouraged by the hope of the people they encountered during the time in the Holy Land, including in Gaza, which they called "a man-made disaster."
The bishops wrote, "As we leave the Holy Land, the bishops and people of the local Church remain in our hearts. They are not alone."
Full text of the statement is available online.