JERUSALEM—A delegation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led by Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, visited the Gaza Strip, September 14. The bishops celebrated Mass with the local Christian community, talked to residents and surveyed the destruction of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas militants. They also met the staff of Catholic Relief Services, the bishops' international relief agency, who have been working to provide disaster relief to those impacted by the violence.
Bishop Pates, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, said the purpose of the visit was to show support for the local Christians and all suffering people in Gaza, as well as to inform the bishops of the situation on the ground. The visit occurred as part of a September 11-18 peace pilgrimage of 18 bishops to the Holy Land, sponsored by USCCB and CRS.
Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, who is a member of the USCCB delegation, has been regularly providing updates about his trip on Twitter.
The other bishops in the Gaza delegation were Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman-elect of the Committee on International Justice and Peace; Bishop John Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Salina, Kansas.