Pope Francis is due to visit the Holy Land this weekend, reports Fox News, but these days fewer and fewer Christians can be found there. Although the West Bank boasts nearby 40,000 Palestinian Christians, and Israel has 130,000 Arab Christians, it’s estimated that 80% of Christian Palestinians live abroad in Europe, the US, and Latin America. Emigration of middle-eastern Christians to other parts of the world has been on the rise for decades, and with a low birth rate among those who stay, the numbers are steadily dwindling.
The Pope will begin his three day journey in Jordan, and during his trip will meet with Elias Abumohor (among others), an environmental engineer whose lands are in danger of being overridden by a proposed Israeli barrier. Many such barriers have been erected to attackers from Palestine out of Israeli lands. Reverand Juan Solana, a Vatican envoy, laments the idea that Christians might disappear from the Holy Land, and encourages Christians “to stay here, to love this land, to be aware of their particular vocation to be the witnesses of Christianity in this land."
In November, Pope Francis said "we will not be resigned to think about the Middle East without Christians."
Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York.