Christian leaders have condemned the latest attack on a church in Jerusalem. For the fourth time in a month, Israeli radicals have attacked the Romanian Orthodox Church in the city’s Musrara neighbourhood. On Monday, March 1st, the assailants set fire to the entrance of the church which was quickly extinguished by the Priest in charge.
The Council of Catholic Churches issued a statement of solidarity with the Romanian Church saying “We unite with the Orthodox Churches and all other churches in Jerusalem and strongly condemn such acts of sabotage that not only harm the lives of Christians, but also harm many of those who still believe in dialogue and mutual respect.” These actions contradict the spirit of peaceful coexistence between the plurality of religious communities in the city. The statement added, “All political and religious authorities in the city must unite in condemning these actions, which have been repeated in recent months in Jerusalem.” They demanded the Israeli authorities to seriously investigate these incidents and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The attack is an example of the hostility Christians face in the birthplace of their faith. Two weeks earlier a similar incident occurred when radicals destroyed the CCTV cameras of the Romanian Church and attempted to set the door on fire. Speaking at the time, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, described it as an event “that reflects the extent of the Israeli extremists’ hatred for the Christian religion in general, and the Orthodox Church in particular.” In response to the outcry the United Nations Alliance for Civilizations released a statement condemning such acts of intolerance and called for “mutual respect of all religions and faiths and for fostering a culture of fraternity and peace.”
Commenting on the most recent attack ICoHS CEO, Anita Delhaas, has said “such attacks reveal the level of intolerance many Christians endure, but also the solidarity shared by the different denominations in the faith.” The attack took place just days after a group of senior church leaders in Jerusalem appeared before the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Christianity in the Holy Land. Members of the APPG, which include the Archbishop of Canterbury and politicians from four parties, quizzed the church leaders about the repeated attacks and the failure of local authorities to take meaningful action against the radical groups behind them.