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Department of Religious Studies

Historic Visits of Church Leaders: UK and Germany 2006-2007

As part of their historic Advent Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in December 2006, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, The Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Revd. David Coffey, Moderator of the Free Churches Group, and Revd. Nathan Hovhannisian, Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Great Britain, visited Bethlehem University students, faculty and administrators. Students reflected on the harsh realities of living under Israeli military occupation, spoke of their hope for a better future and expressed their appreciation for the solidarity and support of the international community.  In the spirit and tradition of gifts received from the Wise Men of the East some 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, just prior to the ecumenical prayer service celebrated in the University Chapel of the Divine Child, the students of Bethlehem University presented the Church leaders with three gifts symbolizing their hardships, hopes and appreciation for solidarity: a stone from the West Bank home of one of the students which was recently demolished by the Israeli authorities; a candle from the Nativity Church, the source of the light of hope for us all; and a Friends of Bethlehem University ceramic tile expressing gratitude for the solidarity and support of the international community.

Three months after the visit of the UK Church leaders, the members of the Permanent Council of the German Bishops' Conference visited Bethlehem University in March 2007 as part of their unprecedented joint visit to the Holy Land. The Bishops were received by the University's Board of Trustees, the Brothers Community, faculty, staff and students.  "We are happy to host you, the Bishops of Germany, to our campus community to witness first-hand the joyful reality of the significance of the Church's educational mission at Bethlehem University and to allow us to express our gratitude for the tremendous support from the people of Germany for the University as we struggle with the devastating reality of living within the Separation Wall. Everyday our faculty and staff are challenged to help our young men and women see the possibility of a better future and this solidarity visit demonstrates that bridges of hope are still alive," said Br. Daniel Casey, Vice Chancellor, in welcoming the Church leadership of Germany.

 Archbishop Fouad Twal, President of Bethlehem University and Coadjutor Archbishop of Jerusalem, commented, "The visit of the Church leaders from Germany renews our hope and assures us all that we are not forgotten. Bethlehem University, the first university established in the West Bank, has always been an oasis where we celebrate faith, academic excellence and diversity- all made possible by the generosity of our committed friends and benefactors around the world."

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine