Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to visit Holy Land

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
Image caption Archbishop Welby will visit holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to visit Egypt and the Holy Land on a five-day tour starting on Sunday.

During the visit, the Most Reverend Justin Welby will meet fellow Anglican bishops and other religious leaders, visit holy sites, and meet a range of communities and leaders.

He is making the trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, Lambeth Palace said.

He will visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Archbishop Welby, who has visited the Middle East several times prior to taking up his role as leader of he Church of England, is said to be "keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region" at the moment - not least the conflict in Syria, and its impact more widely.

Lambeth Palace said he was "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," it added.

During his visit to Egypt, Archbishop Welby will meet 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, he will meet 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 holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, such as the Church of the Resurrection, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, as well as Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and the opening of a community-based diabetes clinic run by the Anglican Diocese in Ramallah.

Archbishop Welby will be travelling with his wife Caroline. The couple spent their honeymoon in the Holy Land.

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