Archbishop Jackson Reports on Visit to Jerusalem with Lord Mayor of Dublin
The archbishop of Dublin spent two full days in Israel–Palestine at the end of May (May 28th – May 31st) with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, and Ms Fanchea Gibson of The Lord Mayor’s Office.
They went at the invitation of Archbishop Suheil Dawani with the purpose of observing first hand the interaction of the three World Faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam and their contribution to Israeli–Palestinian society. The first person with whom they met formally was Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, immediately on their arrival (May 28th). Early on the second morning (May 29th) they visited in succession Haram al Sharif (also known as the Temple Mount), The Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From this they gained an in–depth impression of the public expression of the three Faiths in Jerusalem in the period between Ascension Day and Pentecost, during Ramadan and just ahead of Shavuot.
This was followed by a meeting in St George’s Cathedral with the Armenian Patriarch. The Armenian Church in Ireland has close links with the Church of Ireland in two Dublin churches, Christ Church Taney and St Stephen’s, Mount Street and in Christ Church Cathedral. The afternoon was spent learning about some of the educational and medical outreach projects in Ramallah pioneered by the Anglican Diocese and open to all irrespective of Faith tradition, most notably the Evangelical School (a vocational training centre, specializing in IT and catering) and the Arab Episcopal Medical Centre (diabetic and cardiovascular). Later in the afternoon, the group met Kids4Peace who draw together for the purpose of shared friendship, cultural understanding and mutual respect children of all three Faith traditions. The Lord Mayor renewed his association with some of the Leadership Team of Kids4Peace whom he had hosted late in 2016 in The Mansion House Dublin. Archbishop Suheil had himself founded Kids4Peace at the turn of the millennium.
On the third day (May 30th) the archbishop, the Lord Mayor and Ms Gibson visited Bethlehem where they met members of religious communities and those who strive to keep alfloat economic endeavour and enterprise in the area. Returning to Jerusalem, they spent time in The Princess Basma Centre where the range of services offered to children with disabilities within the Arab community in Jerusalem, The West Bank and Gaza were explained to them by the Director. There is also a primary school in The Princess Basma Centre where children with and children without disabilities learn together in as integrated a manner as is possible. There is a woodcraft workshop for adults with disabilities. The group was moved by the empowering atmosphere and spirit of the Centre, which is under the auspices of the Anglican Diocese, but also forcibly struck by the hardship and hurdles experienced by the mothers of the children who accompany their children every step of the way throughout their travel to The Centre from The West Bank and Gaza and throughout their treatment.
At midday the archbishop preached in St Paul’s Church West Jerusalem as part of the diocesan Come&C project (read the Archbishop’s sermon here). St Paul’s, the Arabic Anglican Church, was destroyed by fire in 1948 and is now restored to its beauty and simplicity and serves the spiritual needs of an English–speaking and an Arabic–speaking congregation.
In the afternoon the Lord Mayor was able to bring to bear on a presentation made on behalf of The Jerusalem Three Faiths Forum his own experience in pioneering The Dublin City Interfaith Charter. He did this in response to a presentation by Dr Miriam Feldman–Kaye of The Jerusalem Three Faiths Forum on Scriptural Reasoning in the healthcare sector and in Israeli hospitals. The archbishop, as part of the link between the two dioceses and expressed in The Epiphany Agreement 2016, made a presentation to Mrs Shafiqua Dawani from Dublin & Glendalough to the Empowerment of Women Project in Jerusalem Diocese.
The visit, although short, has strengthened the link between civic and ecclesiastical Dublin and The Three Faiths in Jerusalem and in Israel–Palestine.
The Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson
Archbishop of Dublin 31st May 2017