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Holy Land: Da Cunha (Ccee), “the challenge of peace may be won by keeping hope and education together”

(from Jerusalem) “These are young people who, despite living in different contexts and situations, share a hope in a better future by refusing all that causes tension and conflict. Hence the need to keep making efforts for justice, peace, the end of the occupation, and thus feed their hope”. This was said to SIR by mgr. Duarte da Cunha, general secretary of Ccee (Council of European Bishops Conferences), at the end of the yearly solidarity visit of the Bishops from USA, Canada, EU and South Africa that ended in Jerusalem today (since January 13th). During the over 5 days of pilgrimage, the bishops and the other members of the Holy Land Coordination met young Palestinians and Israelis, a huge number of students among them, and listened to their stories. One of the key findings is, according to da Cunha, “the close connection that exists between education and hope. Educated young people have more open minds and views, fewer prejudices and less ideology. The more you are educated, the stronger you are, not to destroy other people, but to face the future. The challenge of peace may be won by keeping hope and education together”. However, education, the secretary of Ccee adds, needs “good teachers. We have met a lot of them over these days, aware of their role and of their mission”. One last point emphasised by mgr. da Cunha is “the presence of the Catholic Church and more generally of the Christian Churches, who are engaged in an extraordinary mission in the area of education, of support to the more vulnerable people, such as disabled and elderly people. What would happen to these people without Christians…. Countries such as Germany and the USA have understood how important this mission for the weaker ones is and decided to support it”. A support which, in the final statement, “we wanted to insist upon by calling our devotees in the West to support the organisations that help create jobs, provide accommodation and ease dialogue”, “to pray and organise pilgrimages, and to take a firm stance against all those who try to create further divisions, especially among our political leaders”.

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