From Lambeth Palace
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will on Sunday start a five-day visit to Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
He will meet with fellow Anglican bishops and other religious leaders, visit holy sites, and meet with a range of communities and leaders.
Archbishop Justin is making this trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, the importance of the relationships that his Office has there, and because he is keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region at the moment – not least the devastating conflict in Syria, and its impact more widely.
The Archbishop, who has visited the Middle East several times prior to taking on his new role, is deeply concerned for justice and for the security of all the peoples of the region, and the pressures on its Christian communities. In particular he wants to support and honour the work of the President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Revd Mouneer Anis in Cairo; and the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Right Revd Suheil Dawani, with whom he will be staying in Jerusalem and who will accompany him on all his visits.
In Cairo, the Archbishop will meet with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb, both of whom maintain official dialogues with his Office and the Anglican Communion.
In Jerusalem, the Archbishop will meet the Patriarchs and Head of Churches in Jerusalem at various points in his programme. He will also meet with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, with which his Office has had a formal dialogue since 2006, and a wide range of leaders from other religious traditions.
The visit will include sites holy to the principal religious communities in the Holy City – the Church of the Resurrection, the Western Wall, and the Haram ash-Sharif — as well as to Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust memorial) and the opening of a community-based diabetes clinic run by the Anglican Diocese in Ramallah.
Archbishop Justin spent his honeymoon in the Holy Land with his wife, Caroline, who will also be travelling with him on this occasion.
[Editor's note: LambethPalace will be publishing several reports during and shortly after the Archbishop’s trip on archbishopofcanterbury.org. Pictures of the trip will be published daily on Lambeth Palace’s new Flickr account (flickr.com/photos/lambethpalace) and there will be tweets from the ground from @lambethpalace.]