MENA Region

Christmas in the Middle East and North Africa

05/12/2016 3:14 pm

Advent is a time of prayer, anticipation and reflection. It's also a time of reconciliation. There are few regions in the world that need the hands and hearts of reconciliation more than the Middle East.

As we light Advent candles in our churches and prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas, it's second-nature to look to the Holy Land and reflect on the people of the lands where Jesus was born. But how accurately do we contemplate the realities they are facing?

For this 'Catholic News' podcast, our consultant on the Middle East North African region, Dr Harry Hagopian, travelled down to Bristol to speak to Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton and Chair of our International Affairs department.

Each year, in early January, Bishop Declan leads what we call the Holy Land Co-ordination. It's an annual pilgrimage of bishops from around the world to Israel, Palestine and surrounding countries focusing on prayer, pilgrimage and persuasion. It aims to act in solidarity with the Christian community and to share in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences intense political and social-economic pressure.

Bishop Declan and Harry discuss the Holy Land and the world-famous hospitality shown by the people - many they have encountered in their respective travels have had very little to share but have done so willingly and with enthusiasm.

The conversation turns to those suffering outside Israel/Palestine - those in Syria and Iraq, Yemen and Libya. They also discuss the plight of the refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

If you have a spare 30 minutes this Advent, it's well worth listening to this podcast.

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