The Archbishop of Canterbury praised the Archbishop of Jerusalem’s “bridge-building” between Israelis and Palestinians.
By Anglican Communion News Service
May 15, 2017
“If you come to the Holy Land for two weeks, you think you understand the situation. If you come for two years, you understand that you know nothing about the situation.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has concluded his longest pastoral visit to a diocese outside the Church of England by praising the Archbishop of Jerusalem’s “bridge-building” work between Israelis and Palestinians.
Archbishop Justin’s 11-day “pastoral pilgrimage” was designed to provide an opportunity for him to hear from beleaguered Christians in the Middle East and to witness the Diocese of Jerusalem’s work in the area of reconciliation.
The diocese, in the province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. Archbishop Justin began his visit in Jordan, where King Abdullah assured him that the country would continue to speak out for the presence of Christians in the region. After that meeting, Archbishop Justin asserted that Christians “are the past in the Middle East, they are the present, and they must be the future.”
During the following days he visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, the two Anglican hospitals in Gaza and beleaguered communities in the West Bank — including the divided city of Hebron. He met the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other political leaders.
Archbishop Justin stressed that he was not there to “lay down the law” to local politicians, saying it would be “daft” for outsiders not to be careful about what they said. He repeatedly recited a phrase that he had heard during his visit: “If you come to the Holy Land for two weeks, you think you understand the situation. If you come for two years, you understand that you know nothing about the situation.”
But that did not stop him from raising the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular and the wider problems for Christians in the region — including those who fled the advance of Daesh in Iraq and Syria and who felt that the refugee camps were unsafe areas for them to be. Following his meeting with the political leaders, Archbishop Justin said that he was optimistic that next week’s visit of US President Donald Trump to the region could have “surprising” results in kick-starting the moribund peace process.