CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Uptick in Asians visiting the Holy Land

Jerusalem (UCAN): An increasing number of Asians, especially Indonesians, are taking part in official pilgrimages to Holy Land’s shrines, according to the Franciscan Pilgrims Office of the Custody of the Holy Land.

The Italian news agency SIR reported that in 2015, more pilgrims came from Asia (59,668 people in 1,729 groups) than from North America (53,110), although the United States of America led the list of countries of origin.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, ranked fourth on the list for 2015 with 19,922 pilgrims.

The Philippines ranked 12th with 5,854, South Korea 13th with 4,095, China 14th with 3,396, Sri Lanka 17th with 2,640 and Singapore 18th with 2,397.

The friars of the custody see the presence of such high numbers of Asian pilgrims as a “pleasant challenge.”

Father Agustin Pelayo Fregoso, director of the Christian Information Centre, said, “When they arrive in pilgrimage they are responding to the many appeals from the Holy Land.” 

In many cases, groups are not accompanied by a priest who can celebrate Mass and hear confession in their own languages. 

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