Christmas peace messages taken to Bethlehem
A delegation from the British Section of the catholic peace organisation Pax Christi will take more than 600 peace messages from schools, churches and religious communities in England, Wales Ireland and Scotland when it travels to Bethlehem this Christmas.
Thee visit is part of a larger Pax Christi delegation, including people from the Netherlands and Germany.
Pax Christi is an international Catholic movement for peace, founded in 1945, with sections in five continents.
It has a vision of the world where people can live in peace and without fear of violence, in all its forms. Pax Christi works to ensure that the message of peace is heard by the Church, by decision makers and those working in our communities.
In 2004 Pax Christi launched its "People of the Holy Land need Bridges not Walls" campaign to raise awareness of the impact of the separation fence/wall on the Palestinian community.
The purpose of their latest visit is to offer solidarity to the minority Christian community in Palestine over the Christmas period and also to meet with members of the Muslim and Jewish communities who are working for peace and human rights in the region.
Bishop Malcom McMahon, President of Pax Christi British section sent this message, "Our work to raise awareness amongst people in our country that 'bridges not barriers' is the only way to forge lasting links between believers of many faiths takes a particular focus at Christmas time. Be assured that the many members of Pax Christi are with you as endure the struggles of the present time."
"My fraternal good wishes go to Patriarch Michel Sabbah whose courageous stance during a time of great turmoil has done much to inspire all peoples with a confident vision that peace based on justice is possible and achievable."
The group will meet with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who is also the International President of Pax Christi, when they attend the midnight Mass at the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The hosts of this pilgrimage are the Arab Educational Institute, a Bethlehem based group working to bring together Christian and Muslims to explore their common heritage of peacemaking and develop practical actions for peace. The group will be staying with families connected with the AEI during their time in Bethlehem.
Those taking part are Anne Dodd from Abingdon, Ann Farr from Coventry, Sheila Simpson from Manchester, John Harkin from Derry and Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi.
The groups leaves for Israel on 21 December and will return on 31th December.