Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination call for peace after killings in Gaza’s Holy Family parish

Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination have issued a statement after two Christian women were killed in a sniper attack on the Holy Family Church compound in Gaza on 16 December 2023.

Holy Land Coordination Statement

The Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination were profoundly shocked and distressed at the killing by snipers on 16 December of two Christian women sheltering in the compound of the Holy Family church, Gaza. Messages were sent immediately to the Patriarch, His Eminence Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and to the Parish Priest, Fr Gabriel Romanelli.

The Holy Land Coordination has been warmly welcomed by priests and parishioners on numerous occasions. We have witnessed first hand the faith and commitment of the few parishioners who remain; and the dedicated care by the Missionaries of Charity of some fifty profoundly disabled people who live in the convent alongside the church.

The desecration of this compound and the destruction of the Sisters’ convent, “signalled”, according to the Patriarch, “as a place of worship since before the beginning of the war”, is profoundly disturbing. The shooting in cold blood of Nahida Anton and Samar Antoun, a mother and daughter seeking to enter the convent is unfathomable.

The Holy Land Coordination bishops represent a broad sweep of countries, each bishop committed to a just peace for all and to holding the plight of Christians of the Holy Land at the forefront of their governments’ concerns. We visit the Holy Land regularly to reassure these Christians that they are not forgotten. We seek also to understand better, and at first hand, the realities experienced by the people of three Abrahamic faiths sharing this Land; to fathom the possibility of hope in a two-state solution.

The atrocities perpetrated against Israeli Jews on 7 October and the subsequent killing by the Israeli Defence Force of nearly 20,000 Gazans, of whom 70% were women and children, would appear profoundly to jeopardise the prospects of any such resolution of this deep-seated conflict. Yet, the approaching celebration of Our Saviour’s birth two thousand years ago in the heart of the West Bank should serve as an incentive to people of faith, across the globe, to call down the Holy Spirit ever more fervently to move the hearts of all who can bring influence to bear on these lands and to find a way to cease the hostilities from all sides.

Bishop Nicholas Hudson (Chair of the Holy Land Coordination)
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster
England and Wales

Bishop Nicolo Anselmi
Bishop of Rimini

Archbishop Udo Bentz
Archbishop-elect of Paderborn

Bishop Pierre Burcher
Bishop Emeritus of Reykjavik
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden

Bishop Christopher Chessun
Anglican Bishop of Southwark
Church of England

Bishop Michel Dubost
Bishop Emeritus of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes

Archbishop Richard Gagnon
Archbishop of Winnipeg

Bishop William Kenney
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Birmingham
England and Wales

Bishop Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
England and Wales

Bishop Donal McKeown
Bishop of Derry

Archbishop William Nolan
Archbishop of Glasgow

Archbishop Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia
Bishop of Urgell and Co-Prince of Andorra

Bishop Sithembele Sipuka    
Bishop of Mthatha
South Africa

Bishop Paul Terrio
Bishop Emeritus of St Paul