A group of bishops from North America and Europe, including Archbishop Richard Smith, have concluded their annual pilgrimage of solidarity to the Christians of the Holy Land with an appeal for prayers for peace.

In their final statement the bishopes note that the people in the region have lived through dark and dramatic events: conflict in Gaza and southern Israel; civil war in Syria, which has resulted in huge numbers of refugees pouring into other countries and putting on an enormous strain on their resources; and increasing polarization within Israel and Palestine. These developments have caused profound anxiety for all, for the Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and particularly for the dwindling Christian population.

(Pictured: Bishops pray in Chapel of the Divine Child at Bethlehem University. Photo courtesy of Bethlehem University)

Read the final statement issued by the delegation of the Holy Land coordination.