Synod: Pilgrimages to the Holy Land

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A fixed calendar of annual pilgrimages for bishops from around the world should be set to ensure that the Holy Land is constantly filled with pilgrims, Armenian Archbishop Emmanuel Dabbaghian of Baghdad proposed.

The archbishop addressed the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East Oct. 15 and said prayerful Holy Land trips would benefit pilgrims and also could encourage Middle East emigrants to return.

“The Holy Land is a country of pilgrimage and is where the Lord revealed himself and lived among us,” the archbishop said. “The Lord wishes to be visited, loved, consulted.”

He asked members of the Synod of Bishops to encourage others to visit the Holy Land and suggested Pope Benedict XVI, “who has the authority and the charism,” could coordinate assigning each bishop a date to visit the region each year.

With a bit of coordination, the entire year could be covered, he said, and even if the rate of emigration continues, the church could ensure there always were Christians in the Holy Land.

The pilgrims will return home enriched and “the influx of pilgrims to the Holy Land would convince the inhabitants who have emigrated to return to their homeland,” he said.

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