Archbishop launches appeal to help beleaguered Christians

Williams calls on Anglicans, others to contribute funds towards sustainability of "vulnerable" communities, especially in the West Bank.

Archbishop Rowan Williams_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Archbishop Rowan Williams_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The principal leader of the Church of England and symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Church launched a campaign on Tuesday to help ease the “suffering” of Christian communities in Israel and try and stem their exodus from the region.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams called on Anglicans and others to contribute funds towards the sustainability of “the most vulnerable Christian communities, especially on the West Bank.
“I returned from a visit to the Holy Land last year with a very, very strong sense that we had to do more to express our solidarity with the Christian communities there...We know our brothers and sisters there are suffering, and we don’t always ask ourselves often enough what our response needs to be,” he said.
He called on people to support the creation of a fund to help with community development.
“I want to appeal today to you for your support in creating, in the near future, a fund with which we might assist projects of community development and work creation, especially among Palestinian Christians,” Williams said.
His appeal comes ahead of a conference on Christians in the Holy Land which he is jointly hosting with the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the representative of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The twoday event will take place at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s London residence, next week.
The Archbishop put no onus on the Palestinian Authority for the plight of the Palestinian Christians under their rule in the West Bank, or on Israel; but both Williams and Nichols said they were concerned with the numbers of Christians leaving the region.
“The rate of emigration from Christian populations in the Holy Land has been growing steadily for a long time,” Williams said. “I want to say to Christians in the Holy Land that we treasure enormously their presence and witness. A witness which has gone on throughout Christian history, often in conditions of great trial and stress. Christians in the West need to be aware that the Christians of the Holy Land are an intrinsic part of our Christian family.”
“People are leaving, Christians are leaving, and we want to say that the Christian presence in the Holy Land is important to its balance… not just its historical reality, but to its present and future viability,” added Nichols.
The archbishop was delighted that Anglicans and Roman Catholics, with the personal support of Pope Benedict – with whom the archbishop had discussed the situation of Christians in the Holy Land during his visit to the UK last year – were committed to collaborating closely to focus attention on the plight of these Christians and to finding practical ways to make a difference.
“I hope that in the weeks ahead, fellow Anglicans will give generously to support this vision and consider ways of becoming better informed and more involved with the issues – not as part of any kind of political campaign, but as part of what we owe to our brothers and sisters in Christ’s Body, in supporting the continuance of the vital presence of Christian communities in the land where our Lord preached, lived and died the Gospel,” Williams said.