Our church is part of ‘The Province of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East‘. The Province has four dioceses, one of which is centred in Jerusalem.
Like us here in Dubai, they have problems with visas for clergy sometimes, most recently with the bishop who has been denied a visa for the last year to live in the same country as his diocese! The good news is (from the Anglican Communion News Service) that…
Bishop Suheil Dawani
‘the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and his family are celebrating today after finally getting permission to remain in the city after many months of legal and diplomat appeals. The Rt. Revd Suheil Dawani, who is also Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, today spoke of his delight at finally getting the Residency Permits that as someone born in Nablus in the West Bank must have to stay in East Jerusalem, where St. George’s Anglican Cathedral and the bishop’s offices are located.
“It is with great pleasure, and with God’s help, that I and my family have received our Residency Permits,” he said in a statement to his supporters. “I want to thank all of you, my friends and colleagues throughout the Anglican Episcopal Communion and the Worldwide Christian Community, for your continued support throughout this time. It has been deeply appreciated and most encouraging knowing that we have been kept in your thoughts and prayers as we awaited this most heartening outcome.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support given to me from His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Honourable Lord Rowan Williams, and all the Primates, Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Communion; and the Greek and Latin Patriarchs of Jerusalem. Also our Partners throughout the world including the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the United Kingdom; and the worldwide community including Washington, D.C.; the State Department of the United States and the American Consul-General in Jerusalem, and the office of the British Foreign Secretary.”
Bishop Dawani was denied the renewal of his Residency Permit by the Israeli government in August last year. Initially he had sought confidential support through religious and diplomatic channels. He revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury had been in contact with the office of the Prime Minister of Israel and Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amer to try and resolve this issue. Bishop Dawani had also met personally with the Chief Rabbi, who is a good friend of both Bishop Dawani and the Anglican Church and who did what he could to try and resolve the issue. After many months of little success, Bishop Dawani resorted to the law and his legal advisor sent a letter to the Attorney General of Israel seeking an explanation of the allegations against him which had been the basis for the denial of the residency rights for himself and his family. After waiting one month without an explanation of the allegations from the Attorney General and upon the recommendation of legal counsel, Bishop Dawani chose to take his case to court seeking redress through the Israeli legal system.
What it was that finally resulted in him and his family being granted the Residency Permits has not been revealed, but there will be little doubt at Bishop Dawani’s relief at being able to concentrate on his work in Jerusalem.’