[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the need for “justice, security and peace for the Palestinian people” while opening the clinic at St. Andrew’s Church.
Welby opened a specialist diabetes clinic in Ramallah on June 27, saying it represented “all that is best that we stand for” in the Anglican Communion.
After cutting the ribbon and praying for the new clinic, the archbishop said such healthcare projects were “one of the most important works being done by the Anglican Communion worldwide.”
The clinic is located in a new space which has been built above the church hall of St. Andrew’s Church in central Ramallah. Open to all faiths, the clinic is focused on treating the complicated consequences of diabetes among Palestinians.
Welby later addressed an audience of staff, special guests, politicians, and members of local Palestinian churches.
The new Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, also spoke and praised the work of the local Anglican diocese, led by Bishop Suheil Dawani, throughout the Middle East – particularly in the fields of education, healthcare and rehabilitation. He added that Christians are “an integral part of Palestinian society,” and praised the good relations between Palestinian Christians and Muslims.
In his dedication prayer, the archbishop said: “We entrust the Arab Episcopal Medical Centre to your care and pray that through it your reconciling love may be a beacon of hope for those in despair.”
The clinic is partly funded by the Friends of the Holy Land Trust, which Welby recently agreed to co-patron. The charity is dedicated to supporting the Christian presence in Israel and Palestine.
Traveling to Ramallah from Jerusalem, the archbishop passed through Qalandiya checkpoint where he spoke with human rights observers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
Later in his speech the archbishop said: “Every time I visit this region, I am struck again by the need for justice and security and peace for the Palestinian people. It is a need that is shared by all the people of the region.”
With reference to the checkpoints that Palestinians have to pass through to move between different areas of the West Bank and into Israel, the archbishop spoke of “the frequent indignities that are suffered by people who deserve only dignity and respect, like all human beings should have.”
Before leaving the center, Welby prayed with local clergy at the adjoining St. Andrew’s Church.
Minister Ziad Bandak, adviser on Christian relations to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, attended the dedication ceremony and said: “We look up to the archbishop of Canterbury to strengthen the local church in Palestine and the Holy Land, and to support the Christian presence in the land of Christ.”
Bandak, who lives in Bethlehem and met Welby twice during his visit to the Holy Land, added that the archbishop’s visit was “an important and historic” occasion and that “we value his commitment to peace and reconciliation.”
Yesterday, the archbishop also had meetings with the Israeli president Shimon Peres; the general secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, Al Tayeb Abdul Rahim, and Mahmoud Al Habbash, its minister for religious affairs. He also met the Chief Rabbinate and other religious leaders in Israel.
In the morning he was given a tour of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque, and visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial with his wife, Caroline, and their son, Peter.