Supporting the Christians of the Holy Land



Dear Friends,

This week the Bishop’s Blog reflects upon the plight of the Christians suffering in the Holy Land. Our diocesan website has some new pages to help in this regard – here, here, here, here and here.


I was reminded of the need to highlight this concern by the recent visit to the Holy Land of the group of Catholic bishops from across the globe. In fact, this Holy Land Co-ordination was founded in 1998 at the request of the Holy See and visits Palestine and Israel each year to engage in prayer, pilgrimage and advocacy in solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land.


The 14 bishops participating this year were from North America, Europe, and South Africa,You can read about more about it here.Photos of the visit can be viewed here.


I myself returned from a visit to the Holy Land last April with pilgrims from the Diocese for the Year of Faith with a very strong sense that we had to do more to express our solidarity with the Christian Communities there.


From our experience there and from the testimony of the Christians who live and work there – the ‘Living Stones’- we know our sisters and brothers there are suffering, and we don’t always ask ourselves often enough what our response needs to be.
Somehow we need to do what we can to raise the profile of Christians in the Holy Land and find ways of supporting and assisting our brothers and sisters in the faith there.
The overall decline in the Christian Population of the Holy Land has been very significant in recent decades and it is accelerating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at an alarming rate. The number of Christians in Israel itself remains steady, but we still face the not too distant prospect elsewhere, especially in East Jerusalem, of the disappearance of most of the historic and apostolic Christian communities. These are communities that have been there, in some cases, since the days of our Lord.

And it’s that prospect, the prospect of the Christian presence in a good deal of the Holy Land being reduced just to the level of heritage; Churches as ‘museum pieces’, rather than living communities of faith and prophetic witness which concerns so many of us so deeply.


It is with this in view that I want to appeal today to you for your support the Friends of the Holy Land, a small but growing ecumenical charity. The distinctive thing about the Friends of the Holy Land is that it’s made up of parish-based groups, who are dedicated to praying with and for Christians in the Holy Land and supporting them in practical and personal ways.

The Friends of the Holy Land encourage pilgrimages, and involvement in local grass-roots projects to contribute to the sustainability of the most vulnerable communities and families.

Christians carry a cross on the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City

I hope that you may be able to keep this intention in your prayers and to support in any way you can the Friends of the Holy Land – also considering ways of becoming better informed and more involved with the issues – not as part of any kind of political campaign but as part of what we owe our brothers and sisters in Christ’s Body living in the land where our Lord preached, lived, died and rose again.



Thank you – Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster


The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome back to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!


The prayer of Christ that his disciples ‘may be one’ (John 17:21) will be heard in many churches around the world during this week of prayer for Church unity which begins today.


There exists an ever growing awareness and realisation among Christians that division does no service to the Church’s witness to Christ before the world. Disunity among themselves is clearly not in keeping with Christ’s wishes for those who bear the name of Christian.


The tragedies and complicated upheavals of history have caused deep wounds to the Body of Christ. Western Europe, and Great Britain in particular, experienced the trauma of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, while some centuries earlier the split took place between the Churches of the East and West, which gave rise the various Orthodox Churches.


Other divisions and smaller independent Christian communities are there for all to see in our cities and town.

While we may lament this regrettable state of affairs, a great deal of movement has been taking place in the last fifty years among Christians of all denominations resulting in coming together for prayer and worship, not to mention extensive cooperation among the Churches in social outreach.


Much good has been happening quietly and without fuss, especially in service to the materially poor of our society.  Such unity of purpose in our times is surely a blessing of the Holy Spirit for which we should be grateful.


A further encouraging feature of ecumenism today is the warm and friendly relations to be found among Church leaders. Regular meetings both at local, regional and national level continue apace, and late last year the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales joined with their Anglican counterparts for an overnight gathering at Lambeth Palace, also attended by Archbishop Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain.


Catholic and Anglican Bishops gathering together in prayer and discussion is a sure sign of goodwill and desire to walk a common Christian path together.


The Catholic Church applauds such progress and is keen for Catholics to play an active part in all that pertains to advancing Church unity. Obvious and well-publicised differences of doctrine and practice remain however, to which there are no facile and quick solutions.


Without surrendering our own faith convictions and what we believe to be Christian truth, we must remain open and disposed to the beckoning of the Holy Spirit as he gently leads us forward towards greater conformity with Christ’s prayerful desire to his Father that his followers be one.


Like Our Blessed Lady in her response to the Angel’s invitation, may we too in common prayer let God’s word and saving plan take root in our hearts that each one of us may play our part in bringing the world to believe in God, and in Jesus Christ whom he has sent.


As ever in Christ our Lord,

+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

The Blog on a New Platform for 2014: A New Bishop for Dunkeld

Dear Friends,


Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog – on a new platform for 2014!

When a new bishop officially ‘takes possession’ of his diocese it is invariably a moment of joy and hope, with the sense of a new beginning for the people and clergy of the diocese in question.  Such a happy occasion took place last Thursday evening in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee with the installation of Bishop Stephen Robson as the 9th Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Dunkeld, Scotland.


A full cathedral witnessed Bishop Vincent Logan, Bishop Stephen’s predecessor, hand over the diocesan crozier at the beginning of the Mass of Installation, which was preceded by the reading of the Bull of Appointment signed by Pope Francis.


The presence of Archbishop Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, underlined the real personal bond between Bishop Robson and Pope Francis, successor of St. Peter.


This communion of the bishops of the universal Church with the Bishop of Rome symbolises the unity of Catholics as the flock of Christ, entrusted to the care of Peter and the Apostles.

Robson Campbell

I attended Bishop Robson’s Mass of Installation not only as a brother bishop, but with a sense of pride and for the very special reason that he born in Carlisle, part of the diocese of Lancaster. It was pleasing to reflect that something of the new bishop’s strong Catholic faith is due to his Cumbrian background!


The arrival of a new bishop to a diocese and the ceremony of Installation is both deeply moving and a powerful ecclesial moment, which perhaps can only fully be grasped in the light of faith.


The bishop is the focus of unity for the clergy and faithful of a diocese, and his presence is a guarantee of the apostolic foundation of the faith of the diocese in question. He is ultimately responsible for the transmission of the Catholic faith in all its integrity, and his ministry or office is summed up with the three words ‘teaching’, ‘governing’ and ‘sanctifying’.


The enthusiasm and pleasure, in prolonged applause, with which the people and priests of Dunkeld welcomed Bishop Robson was recognition that the presence of their new bishop was a blessing from God. God had indeed visited his people!

After a period of waiting they once more had a Shepherd who would care for them, and lead them in the ways of Christ, the Good Shepherd himself. Our prayers and thoughts go from the diocese of Lancaster to Bishop Stephen as he begins his ministry of bishop in Dunkeld. May the Lord richly bless him and the faithful people in his care!


Until next week’s post – may God bless you all,


+Michael Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

(Dunkeld Photos – kindness of Eddie Mahoney)