The decreasing number of Christians in the Middle East (especially in Israel) has been a great concern for many Popes. According to the article below:
Less that 2 percent of the population of Israel and the Palestinian territories today is Christian, down from more than 7 percent around the time of Israel's independence 65 years ago, according to Naim Ateek, director the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, a leading Christian think tank.
Several factors are behind the decline, including the higher birthrates of Jews and Muslims and an exodus driven by continued Israeli-Palestinian violence and better opportunities in the West. In some instances, particularly in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Christians have been subject to intimidation by a minority of Muslims.
The number of Catholic nuns have also been in decline. In Bethlehem's only orphanage run by nuns, only four aging nuns remain, and the Catholic Church is struggling to replace them. Similar situations are happening across the Holy land in other orphanages, hospitals, schools, and charities. In many cases, they had to hire a number of lay people to cover the shortfall. Even the Franciscan order, the largest and oldest Catholic presence in the Holy land, has seen its numbers dwindled in half in 60 years with an average age of over 50. However, there is hope. According to the article, whose weblink I provided below:
The stern, gray monastery and seminary of the Neocatechumenal Way on Domus Galilaeae highlights the changing face of Catholicism. The 15 year old institution's jewel is a seminary boasting a bronze, life-size statue of Jesus preaching to his disciples as he appears to be floating over the sea.
Water poured over the Ten Commandments, carved into high walls in Latin and Hebrew. A fresco of Jesus and his apostles in rich shades of red, gold, blue, and green shone on a church wall. Some 60 people, teenagers, young men and women stood in a circle on a recent day, singing and praying with white-clad priests.
The Francisans, who oversee some of the Church's most prized properties have been struggling in keeping these lands. They have handed over land and buildings worth millions of dollars including the property known as Domus Galilaeae to the Neocatechumenal Way, who now runs the area. The Reverend David Neuhaus goes on to state in the article, "The changes show how the Catholic Church is evolving, rather than fading away. The church produces new movements to serve new circumstances."
Neocatechumenal Way in Bethlehem
The Neocatechumenal Way built a monastery beside the Domus Galilaeae International Center, which was inaugurated in 2008 with a gathering of 170 bishops and key figures from the Catholic lay Neocatechumenate. On the roof, there is a sculpture made by Kiko Arguello, which depicts Jesus and the twelve Apostles during the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount. The Statue is pictured below: