Christian leaders condemn latest attack on Jerusalem’s Romanian Church

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.

The ICoHS January Newsletter

“By the power of the Holy Spirit may you abound in hope” 
Romans 15:13

Much of the pessimism which blighted 2020 has continued into the beginning of 2021.  In spite of our continued lock downs in different parts of the world, including the Holy Land, we must not forget the intolerable plight of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, especially at the end of the Christmas period which is often a time of great joy and energy in the birthplace of Jesus.

Without the custom of pilgrims and little government support, Christian businesses have struggled to remain open.  This has exasperated the divisions in the area and continues to cast doubt over the future of Christians in the Holy Land.  In response to this, ICoHS has directed $30,000 raised through your generosity in the Bethlehem Star event to assist struggling Christian families, helping them with school tuition and medical needs.

We are excited to share our plans for the coming year which has not been deferred by the pandemic. We will be holding our Summit this September in Westminster Abbey, bringing together leading voices on Christians in the Holy Land. This will be followed by a similar event in Washington DC in the United States of America.

As the only organisation to receive a mandate from all 13 churches in Jerusalem, we are pleased to announce the start of our “Feasts of the Holy Land” series. We will start with the Feast of St. Simeon with a live-stream on February 16, the day before Latin Ash Wednesday leading into lent and Holy Week.

This series aims to bring Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant communities together to celebrate these ancient traditions that are often less popular in modern times.

Looking forward to virtually meet you during our live-stream on February 16, in which we will share interesting facts about Saint Simeon, give you an opportunity to meet clergy from the Holy Land, roam the streets of Jerusalem with Bassem (a tour operator) and visit the Monastery of Saint Simeon in the Qatamon area.

Anita Delhaas- van Dijk

Chief Executive

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