05 February 2018

In Bethlehem: Day of Prayer for Christian Unity and for Peace in the World

In addition to Jerusalem, the faithful also gathered in Bethlehem for a Day of Prayer for Christian Unity on February 1.

Actuality and events

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On February 1, faithful from several Christian churches gathered in St. Catherine's Church, next to the Basilica of the Nativity, for [the celebration of] the Day of Prayer for Christian Unity and for Peace in the World. The joint prayer was presided by the pastor of Bethlehem.
Christians of Jerusalem attended the prayer meeting between January 20 and January 28. Since Israel denies citizens of the Palestinian territories permission to circulate in Jerusalem, the prayer meeting also took place in the city of Bethlehem.

Spokesman for the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem
"We, the priests of the churches of Bethlehem, gather today for prayer and unity, and together we join our Christian brothers in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Syria and in Yemen, where they face persecution and violence in cities, villages and churches. We pray for our survival in Palestine, especially because we live in difficult circumstances, which have reduced the population of the Holy Land to less than 1%.”

Pastor of Bethlehem
"We gather today in the liturgy at the service of the Word and of the prayer for unity and forgiveness: this is the foundation of unity among us. We live moments of joy and, through our prayers and actions, we are able to achieve unity."

About 30 thousand inhabitants live in Jesus' city of birth. Catholics, Orthodox and Lutherans together represent less than 40% of the population. A prayer experience like no other, it reinforces bonds and hope for their daily life.

Syriac Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary - Bethlehem
"In the blessed days of Christmas, when Christ came to bring peace between heaven and earth, between mankind and the Creator, all the churches were invited to take part in one project, the project of Christian unity, which everyone strongly desires.
All of us belong to different denominations and to churches of different languages, but what unites us is our faith in the Lord Jesus.”

For the local community, praying for Christian unity and peace in the place where Jesus was born is extremely significant. Here, Christmas is present every day and reaffirms the communion among all the peoples that was initiated and established in the cave of Bethlehem. As it is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah, a son was born for all nations:

(Isaiah 9: 5)