for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000
International Policy Committee
US Catholic Conference
in consultation with
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association
Catholic Relief Services
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
National Conference of Catholic Bishops
March 26, 1999
The Great Jubilee is a special time of spiritual journey for Christians. It is a time when we recommit ourselves to living a Christian life as a life of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage may mean embarking on a journey of prayer; accompanying the poor, the oppressed, the refugees in their times of trial; visiting local holy sites; and countless other acts of faith. For a great many American Catholics, the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ will mean going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Becoming pilgrims is an especially appropriate way to observe the Jubilee, coming to know the land where Jesus was born, where he preached and healed, suffered, died and rose again.
As the whole Church prepares to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the bishops of the United States, together with the Holy See and the Church in the Holy Land, desire to promote an authentic pilgrimage experience for Catholics visiting the Holy Land. We encourage those who already plan to become pilgrims and those who are considering to do so, to undertake their journeys in a profoundly religious spirit, understanding they will be walking along the way of the Lord. Jubilee pilgrimages offer a special opportunity for Christian renewal and for carrying out the Church's Jubilee mission of solidarity and reconciliation. Pilgrimage is a unique religious undertaking. Down the centuries, pilgrimage, whether begun out of devotion or in penitence, has been the occasion for conversion. Pilgrims are changed by the experience. Hearts and minds transformed forever, pilgrims have returned home with a new sense of their Christian calling to take up a new way of life. We want to encourage Catholics undertaking visits to the Holy Land to do so in the spirit of true pilgrims, to walk prayerfully and devoutly in the steps of our Lord and with openness to the movement of the Spirit of Jesus in their lives.
Potential pilgrims should not be discouraged by reports of millennial cultists and the ongoing political instability in the region. They should draw strength from the generations of Christians who have made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land before them. They should also realize that Catholics have a special calming gift to bring to the Holy Land in the mission of repentance, conversion and renewal proposed by the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in Tertio millennio adveniente. True Christian pilgrims will be the best witness to the world of the deep meaning of the year 2000.
Solidarity with Holy Land Christians
Just as the Gospels are continued in the Book of Acts, so too pilgrimages are made complete by encounters with the living Church in the Holy Land. The church of Jerusalem was the mother church for us all. It was from Jerusalem that the apostles went forth to spread the Gospel. It was to the Church in Jerusalem that other early communities of faith looked for guidance. So, we also hope that Jubilee pilgrimages to the Holy Land will be an occasion to build solidarity between American pilgrims and the Church in the Holy Land whose center today is Jerusalem.
The great majority of Christians in the area are either Catholic or Orthodox. Most of the Catholics belong to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, a church of the Byzantine tradition whose patriarch resides in Damascus. There is also a sizable Latin-rite community under the jurisdiction of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The local Orthodox Christians are part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It has possession of many of the major Christian Holy Places. It shares custody (with the Franciscans and the Armenian Apostolic Church) of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known to Greek Orthodox as the Church of the Resurrection. There is also a significant presence of Oriental Orthodox Christians, especially the Armenian Apostolic Church, which has a local patriarchate and a school in Jerusalem associated with Saint James Cathedral and Monastery in the Armenian Quarter. A number of smaller Protestant groups complete the mosaic of Christian Churches in the Holy Land. Your pilgrimage can offer a valuable opportunity to make contact with these groups, most of which have maintained a prayerful presence at the Holy Places for many centuries.
Jesus, on the night before he died, prayed for the unity of the Church. When Pope Paul VI visited Jerusalem in 1964, he made the encounter with the Ecumenical Greek Patriarch Athenagoras a major part of his pilgrimage. Awareness of the richness of the manifestations of Christian faith, especially in Jerusalem, can make every pilgrimage an encounter on the road to Christian unity. The Holy Land includes Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jerusalem and Jordan. For some eastern church, the Holy Land also includes Lebanon and Syria. The Christians of the Holy Land have a difficult vocation to live out in the land of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Pilgrims should be attuned to the people, places and situations along their journey of faith. The whole Church will be strengthened by special efforts of solidarity on the part of pilgrims toward the local Christian communities. The Arab Christian presence in the Holy Land is part of the Church's historic witness to the Gospel. By experiencing the local Church's travails, pilgrims can share in the wider struggle for justice and peace, and can strengthen the bonds of solidarity between the Church in the United States and the Church in the Holy Land.
Solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land is particularly necessary at the present time. The pressures faced by Christians of all denominations throughout the Middle East region and the ensuing emigration are major concerns for the bishops of the region. The Holy Land is of particular concern, for the whole Church has an interest in the survival and well-being of living communities of faith there.
Traditionally pilgrimage is also a time for healing and reconciliation. Today pilgrimage can contribute to reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and the three monotheistic religions of the Holy Land: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Abraham is the father in faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims. All worship the one God, listens to the divine word instructing them through scriptures, and treasure the Holy Land. For centuries, adherents of the three religions have lived side by side.
For all these reasons, the spirit of pilgrimage is not exclusive. Pilgrims ought not visit the historic and modern Holy Land without encountering the living Christian community. Likewise, they must also take pains to encounter the diverse peoples and traditions of the Holy Land. Pilgrimage today means meeting Christians, Jews, and Muslims and learning about the difficult issues they face together in the land all three call holy.
To allow pilgrims to experience the full religious power of their journey of faith, we make the following recommendations to potential pilgrims, guides, chaplains and Catholic travel agencies:
- Pilgrimage should be planned and carried out as a genuinely religious exercise in the spirit of prayer, with reverent openness to the workings of the Spirit and the possibilities of conversion of life. Accordingly, pilgrimage differs from religious tourism and study tours of the Holy Land.
- Pilgrims should be led by an accredited spiritual animator or licensed guide who appreciates and respects the Christian tradition and pilgrimage as a distinctive religious undertaking. There are Church-authorized and government-recognized pilgrimage animators. While, for the spiritual purposes of pilgrimage, Catholic or Christian animators or guides are preferable, when they are not available, non-Christian guides should be supplemented with approved chaplains and spiritual directors. Be aware that in addition to licensed Israeli (Jewish and Arab) guides, certified Palestinian guides are now available for areas under Palestinian control. (Unfortunately, as yet, no reciprocity agreements are in effect with Israel.) Many of these guides have been trained at the Holy See's Bethlehem University.
- Pilgrimages should be planned and conducted with ample opportunity for prayer, celebration of the sacraments, and personal and group reflection. The spiritual atmosphere of a pilgrimage can be enhanced by the simplicity and quiet of pilgrim hostels as opposed to the busyness of commercial hotels.
- Care should be taken, with advanced planning, for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the Sacraments, and special events such as the renewal of baptismal and marriage vows.
- The pilgrimage experience is enhanced by liturgical and devotional music. Groups should identify musicians and song leaders, and select music or hymnals in advance. Musical tapes can help preserve a sense of prayer on longer bus rides.
- The Holy Places that are staffed by the Franciscans will have specialized sacramentaries and lectionaries adapted to the memory of the people and events associated with the site. In addition, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has local liturgical books with Masses commemorating many pilgrims, hermits, penitents and other holy men and women who journeyed to the Holy Land or made it their home. These may also be a source of inspiration for pilgrims. They may be obtained from the Chancery of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
- Commercial contacts should be carefully limited with a view to retaining the religious intention of pilgrimage. Pilgrims can lend support to the local economy, but shopping ought not to become a preoccupation. Group leaders should prearrange a limited number of scheduled shopping times and/or allow free time for activities not essential to journeying as pilgrims.
- Catholic pilgrims are encouraged to show their solidarity with the local Church in the Holy Land by becoming acquainted with the faithful, by being attentive to their stories, and by sharing their living faith.
- Catholic Relief Services and the Pontifical Mission have created outreach programs for pilgrims visiting for the Jubilee. These offices can help orient American pilgrims and assist them in making contact with local Christians, along with Muslims and Jews. They can also assist groups in making contact with local organizations, especially related to peace, justice and development issues. CRS also supports Cardinal House, an interdenominational house of hospitality and education for pilgrims in Bethlehem.
- We encourage parish groups to meet with the parishes of the local Church in its different forms, especially Latin and Greek Melkite Catholics; likewise, diocesan groups, priests and religious should endeavor to make contact with local Church leaders and their institutions. Arrangements may be made through Catholic Relief Services' Millennium Outreach Office and the Pontifical Mission Office. The Notre Dame Pilgrim Center and the Catholic Information Center can also be helpful.
- When planning your pilgrimage, obtain a copy of the calendar of events sponsored by the Office for the Great Jubilee of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which is located at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, and, if possible, join with local Catholics in their celebration of the jubilee. (Other calendars will be published by Bethlehem 2000, an organization of the Palestinian Authority, and the Israeli Tourism Ministry.)
- Ecclesial solidarity will also mean learning about issues of justice and peace from Palestinians, Israelis, Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
- When visiting or meeting with local Christians, explore ways to establish sustained relations between your parish or diocese and Catholic parishes, Catholic institutions (including the justice and peace commission), and the local Catholic hierarchy.
Ties to the Jewish Community
- The spirit of dialogue especially recommends making serious efforts to come to know the life and aspirations of Jewish communities in Israel. Therefore, pilgrims should try to engage in interfaith dialogue with Jews. The American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI) maintain offices in Jerusalem which offer opportunities for learning about interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land, identifying speakers for pilgrim groups, and learning about lectures and discussions during pilgrims' stays.
- Visit the shrines and historic places of the Jewish people, such as the Western Wall, and the ancient synagogues at Capernaum and Nazareth. Visits to these sites can be occasions for prayerful understanding of the Jewishness of Jesus and the Jewish roots of our Christian faith. A visit to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial, also would be helpful to understand the modern Jewish mind.
- Take advantage of lectures, symposia and other events sponsored by institutions such as the Ecumenical Institute at Tantur, Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center and the Ratisbonne Catholic Center for Jewish Studies.
Ties to the Muslim Community
- Visit Muslim holy sites and meet with Muslim religious leaders. The CRS Millennium Outreach Office and the Pontifical Mission Office can be helpful in arranging meetings with Muslim groups and visits to religious sites, such as the Haram el Sharif (the Dome of the Rock) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
- Visit a Muslim village and meet the people, especially where Catholic Relief Services, the Pontifical Mission, or the Franciscans are sponsoring a project.
- Participate in Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue events at Tantur and the Notre Dame Center. Major dialogue events are planned for the Jubilee, including an interfaith youth day in Haifa, sponsored by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries, the local bishops' conference.
- Many Christian institutions will provide meals for pilgrims, the income from which helps support their operations. Plan in advance to take meals in hospices, orphanages, or schools, or take your accommodations with them.
- Where possible, pilgrims are encouraged to visit programs supported by the U.S. Catholic Church: the Pontifical Mission, Catholic Relief Services, and Bethlehem University. With a hotel training program, the university can provide meals as well as a chance to meet with Palestinian students and faculty from the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. This can be easily achieved without interfering with one's itinerary.
- Guides and tour agencies will be alert to security concerns. The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem also issue alerts which can be helpful in planning and executing your pilgrimage. In general, keep to tour buses and avoid public transport (buses).
- If your guide does not want to enter certain areas, inquire about reasons. Has there been a recent disturbance? Is a disturbance expected today? Be aware that some guides will be averse, solely for ideological reasons, to entering some areas. If a pattern of comments seems to suggest that this reluctance is ideologically based, consult with his superiors, CRS or the Pontifical Mission, or with local Christian leaders for advice. While not taking unnecessary risks, the religious goals of the pilgrimage, including solidarity and reconciliation, would suggest crossing over boundaries when possible.
- Without prejudice to others, be attentive to opportunities to support known Christian businesses, including Christian travel agencies and guides. The majority of Christians in the Holy Land are poor and economically disadvantaged. Patronizing their businesses can be an act of solidarity with a church seriously threatened by emigration. Such business contributes to the economic development of Arab Christian communities and helps retain the threatened Catholic presence in the Holy Land.
The Holy Land in the Great Jubilee Contacts for U.S. Pilgrims
P.O. Box 9
Rue de Freres, Bethlehem
Contact: Brother Vincent Malham, F.S.C, Director
Tel: 011-972-2-74-1241 /2 /3
Sponsored by the Vatican, chartered in U.S., and staffed by the Brothers of Christian Schools, Bethlehem University offers higher education opportunities to Palestinians and Arab Israelis, both Christian and Muslim. Tourism and hotel management programs permit the university to host pilgrim group, and arrange meetings with students and faculty.
Bethlehem, near Church of the Nativity
Manger Street, Bethlehem
Set up to assist U.S. pilgrims, the CRS Cardinal House can provide background briefings, contacts with local Christian, Jewish, Muslim groups, short dramatic presentations on justice peace and development issues.
Catholic Relief Services Millennium Outreach Office
P.O. Box 19447 - 52 Nablus Road
Contact: Sheik Jarrah, (East) Jerusalem
Janice Phipps, Millennium Outreach Officer
Set up to assist U.S. pilgrims, the CRS Outreach Office can provide background briefings, contacts with local Catholic, Muslim and Jewish groups; instruction on justice, peace and development issues; and site visits to U.S. Catholic Church sponsored projects in nearby villages.
Chancery, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
P.O. Box 14152
Latin Patriarchate Road, Jerusalem
Tel: 011-972-2-628-2323; 627-22-80
With an advance request from tour agencies, the Chancery can provide pilgrims with certificates confirming their completion of the pilgrimage. In a limited number of cases, it can also arrange for meetings with the Latin Patriarch, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, and the awarding of pilgrim shells to Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre.
Christian Information Center
P.O. Box 14308 (Jaffe Gate - Old City)
Jerusalem 91 140
Contact: Fr. Emelio Barsena
Operated by Franciscans, CIC provides information on religious events throughout the country. They have opening hours, mass schedule and addresses for major religious institutions; they provide travel details for buses, taxis, etc. to locations around the country they sell books, maps, travel guides, and arrange for masses in the Holy Sepulchre and other Holy Sites.
Ecumenical Institute Tantur
P.O. Box 19556 - 91194 Jerusalem
Contact: Fr. Thomas Stransky
(after 9/99, Fr. Michael McGarry)
POB 19566 - Jerusalem 91194
Founded by Pope Paul VI after his 1964 pilgrimage, the Ecumenical Institute at Tantar is run in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame. It runs programs for scholars, sabbattarians, and undergraduates. The institute supports inquiry in the areas of Christian unity, interreligious relations, especially with Jews and Muslims, and justice and peace in the Abrahamic and other religious traditions.
Institute of Saint Peter of Sion Ratisbonne Center for Christian Jewish Studies
Shmuel Hanagid St. 26, Jerusalem
Tel: 011-972-2-625-9171/625-7068/Fax: 972-2-625-7172
Administered by the religious of Notre Dame de Sion, the institute, under the supervision of the Holy See, provides advanced study programs in the cultural, historical, and religious context of ancient and modern Judaism with a view to understanding the Jewish roots of Christianity.
Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI)
Jerusalem 91078 ISRAEL
Director: Dr. Ron Kronish
Tel: 011-972-2-672-6430 / Fax: 972-2-673-2717
ICCI is an umbrella organization of institutions and individuals that seek to promote interreligious and intercultural understanding within Israel society.
Melkite Greek Catholic Center
Jaffa Gate, Old City Jerusalem
PO Box 14130 - Patriarchal Vicarate
Jerusalem 91 141
Contact: Gabriel Carey/Mgr. Lutfi Laham
Provide services such as introductionto Eastern Churches; have a museum that has a display for each eastern church. They have a book shop and library, as well as pilgrim accommodations. They are able to take people around on day tours, but have limited staff. Archbishop Laham meets with groups when possible and explains history, thinking of churhces and other useful information.
Middle East Council of Churches
PO Box 14634 - Jerusalem Liaison Office
Jerusalem 91 146
Director: Harry Hagopian
Can provide invaluable information regarding events, contacts, and issues related to ecumenical and interfaith relationships in the Holy Land.
Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Opposite New Gate, Old City Jerusalem
Contact: Msgr. Richard Mathes, Charge
Notre Dame is a Vatican pilgrims' hospice and a major meeting place for Christians visiting Jerusalem. Evening Prayer and Mass are offered daily. A new cultural center is due to open in time for the Jubilee and a variety of interreligious and cultural programs will be offered there.
Office for the Great Jubilee Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
PO Box 14152 - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Jerusalem 91 141
Contact: Fr. Robert Fortia
The Jubilee Office provides schedules of events, admissions to them, and contacts with the local Church.
Old City, Jerusalem
Contact: Fr. Charles Miller
The Pontifical Mission was founded in 1949 by Pope Pius XIII to assist refugees and displaced persons following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. A work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, based in New York, the mission supports charitable, medical, educational and cultural programs. It supports schools for the handicapped and the deaf in Bethlehem.
Saint Peter Gallicantu - Mt. Zion Gate
Old City Jerusalem
Contact: Rev. Robert Fortin, A.A., Rector
Tel: 011-972-2-673-1739/ 673-4812
Beautifully restored, Saint Peter is the traditional site of Jesus' imprisonment and Peter's denial. Expanded facilities should provide handicap access, rest facilities and an amphitheater for use by large tour groups. The gift shop offers religious and artistic items fashioned by local religious communities. A hostel provides dormitory-like facilities for young adult pilgrims.