Bishop Malloy Part of Holy Land Coordination Delegation
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
January 20, 2023
AMMAN, JORDAN—Bishop David Malloy is among bishops from 11 countries who have gathered in Jordan for the annual Holy Land Coordination pilgrimage held from Jan. 14-19 to meet with the Christian community there. There are over 200,000 Christians in the country. Its Catholic parishes, schools and social projects form an important part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
In addition to visiting parishioners and young people throughout Jordan, the bishops met with Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria who have sought sanctuary in the country over recent years. These communities are assisted by the local Church and the bishops are returning to some of the projects previously visited to reaffirm the support of the Universal Church.
According to the Catholic Arabic agency Abouna, the delegation includes bishops from England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Canada, France, Spain, Slovakia, Italy, Germany and Iceland, along with representatives of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE), the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, the Anglican Church and of several international ecclesial bodies.
The pilgrimage has been held annually in January since 2000, with the aim of supporting the Holy Land’s Christian communities as they experience the political and socio-economic hardships of living in the region. 
Leading the group this year is Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), which is entrusted with the organization of the annual event.
The theme chosen for the  visit is: "The role and importance of the Christian community in Jordan.”
During the meetings they listened to the Christian stories and concerns over the many challenges facing Christians in Jordan, including the economic crisis, ongoing political tensions in the region, fear of Islamic fundamentalism, and declining  Christian population.
Christians in the country presently account for about 2 percent of the population, 92 percent of which is Sunni Muslim. In the past years the country has seen a growing influx of Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria.
Although Jordan has a tradition of peaceful religious coexistence and Christians enjoy freedom, in recent years the political situation in neighboring Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Israel, and economic difficulties have put a strain on the political stability of the Hashemite Kingdom, causing more and more Jordan Christians, especially young people, to emigrate.  
A parish priest in the Christian stronghold of Fuheis, 20 kilometers northwest of Amman, told the delegation that Jordan citizens who used to make up 25 percent of the local Christian population have dropped to 2 percent.
Moreover, what used to be a secure country has become more exposed to Islamic fundamentalism, resulting in increased insecurity. This is why — the priest explained — the Catholic schools in Jordan give so much importance to educating young people to dialogue and tolerance, so as to prevent religious extremism from taking hold in the country and preserve its pluralistic social fabric.
Other events scheduled during the HLC visit included meetings with the leaders of the Jordanian Catholic Church and of Caritas Jordan, with young people, and with Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria who are assisted by the local Church through several programs supported by the Universal Church.
Included in the busy agenda were meetings with diplomats and Christian Members of Parliament to discuss wider developments across the Holy Land, and visits to the Baptism site on the River Jordan, to Mount Nebo and to the Our Lady of Peace Centre for those disabled. 
Jordan plays an important role including hosting more than two million Palestinian refugees and tending holy sites in Jerusalem. The local Catholic bishops have recently called for efforts to address the increasing violence and political instability in the region, a message that was underscored by Pope Francis in his speech to the diplomatic corps recently.
As always, pilgrimage is a central aspect of the Holy Land Coordination. During their visit the bishops celebrated Mass at the site of the Baptism of the Lord, exploring how pilgrimages from their own countries can best continue to support the local Christian communities.
—From information from Vatican News, Holy Land Coordination and Anglican Ink.


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