Bishop Murphy, above in blue shirt, and the delegation of bishops have been touring Jerusalem on a pilgrimage of peace and understanding. Photo by Jen Hardy/Catholic Relief Services

 

 Bishop Murphy continues to blog from Jerusalem as he joins other U.S. bishop on a pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land.  You can read his previous blogs from the trip here.

 

We began Friday morning with a tour of East Jerusalem and, as I write this Friday evening, it seems a long time ago because we did so much and met so many interesting people.

An unusual man, Attorney David Seidemann, spent three hours with us going around East Jerusalem and explaining the area, the people, the various ventures of housing and the reactions to it by the mostly Palestinian population.

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill

Mr. Seidemann calls himself a very secular Zionist who loves Israel but very much wants a two state solution to the Israeli Palestinian standoff.  Personally, I learned much from him about the topography of Jerusalem and even more about the various schemes about what the different parts of today’s Jerusalem might become over time. While I would not agree with his analysis in all its points, nor would I accept some of his positions, he was a great aid to us all by putting the realities in Jerusalem in a clearer perspective.

 

For me the highlight of the day was the time we spent at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The patriarch, Archbishop Fouad Twal, a longtime friend, welcomed us into his Center and we were briefed by his people on the state of the Diocese and the many projects they are carrying out in Israel, Jordan and Palestine. We celebrated Mass with him and it was my privilege to offer a brief homily. Later he invited us to lunch with some of the Christian leaders in the Holy Land.

From there we walked in the Old City to the headquarters of the Custos of the Holy Land. Another friend, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, has been the Custos for 25 years. Highly respected by everyone, he gave us a very nuanced and very insightful look into the role of the Church in this very complicated area of the world. He had a very positive sense of his role which is to be a witness, to be available to one and all and to be the face of the Church  all who live here or who visit here.

Friday evening is the beginning of Shabbat, Jewish Sabbath day. The group of bishops was welcomed for a Shabbat Eve service at a Reform synagogue in West Jerusalem. The rabbi is the son of a famous rabbi in the States who was Conservative. His son, Rabbi Levi Weiman Kelman was quite charismatic. The service followed the regular Shabbat Eve service but was somewhat unusual both in the music and in the way the service was conducted. The spirit of the congregants was very upbeat and the commitment to peace was manifest. It was a true prayer for peace that resounded in our hearts as it did in theirs.

We ended the day with supper at the hotel at which the U S Consul General for Palestine shared some thoughts with us about the realities of the current political scene and the role of the American Consul here, especially with American pilgrims and Palestinian youth.

It has been a long day and tomorrow begins with Mass at 8 am at the Church of the Flagellation where I will pray for all of you as I ask you to join us bishops in prayer for peace in the Middle East.

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