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A Great Cloud of Witnesses: The Catholic Church's Experience in the Holy Land

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Each day, the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of the ongoing troubles that plaque the land of Jesus' birth. They have gone on record as a way of sharing those experiences with the larger Church.

What you will find contained herein is the voice of our Church in its' own words. It is not the voice of politicians or pundits or ideologues. It is the uncensored authentic voice of the Church in the Holy Land and it continues to faithfully call out to us. This is a compilation of the words of Popes, Patriarchs, Cardinals, clergy, teachers and the everyday Catholic in the street. It is uniquely, the Christian experience. It has been consistent, truthful and unfortunately, too often ignored.
This is a humble attempt to help change that.

In doing so, we have brought together for the first time in one place, a series of official Church statements, documents, articles, and interviews collected from over a seventy year time span. And while some of the articles are older, the issues they address have never been resolved. All of these articles are solely from the Christian perspective and address issues specific to the Holy Land.

When most people think of the Holy Land, they think of Israel and Palestine. Many also believe that whatever transpires there is simply a matter concerning Jews and Muslims. Yet, there is a very significant community whose voice is too often left out, not only of much of the dialogue, but also of many of the possible solutions regarding the Holy Land. That voice is the voice of the Church and its' people. It is a voice that many are not generally familiar with. For example, if you say there are Catholics living in Gaza; it can sound strange indeed to someone unfamiliar with the Churches history and presence there.

As the Christian population in the Holy Land has decreased from historically around 18% to less than 2% today, it is imperative we stand with our brothers and sisters to help them remain in the place where, "God entered into history and stayed with us forever" (Saint John Paul ll). In order to better understand their lives in this troubled land, it is the voice of the Church, that can provide us with a solid base on which to form our perspectives. It is a voice free of "spin", agenda or politics. As Archimedes said, "Give me a place to stand and I can move the earth". The Church has provided us with that place to stand, so that we can make a difference.

The Christians in the Holy Land have a saying, that "we live in a land that has experienced the Resurrection, so as Christians, we always have hope". Part of that hope is us. Our prayer is that the reader will listen to what our Church is saying and join their voices to those of this "great cloud of witnesses".

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