JERUSALEM (RIA Novosti): The leaders of the Christian churches in Jerusalem said that local officials are unable to protect Christians from attacks by radical groups that attack priests and desecrate shrines.
“We note with gratitude that the Israeli government has publicly committed itself to ensuring the safety of Christians and protecting their homes in the Holy Land. <…> In this regard, it is a matter of serious concern that efforts at the national level are being thwarted by for the inability of local politicians, officials and law enforcement services to curb radical groups whose members intimidate local Christians, attack priests and desecrate holy places and church property, “the heads of the churches of Jerusalem said in a statement, the Russian translation of which was published on the website of the Department for External Church Relations ( DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The statement in English was published by the website of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. According to the DECR, it was signed by the Christian patriarchs and heads of the churches of Jerusalem, including the Patriarch of Jerusalem The-ophilos III, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nurkhan Manukyan, the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa and other Christian leaders of the region.
The heads of the churches, it says, appealed to the authorities in Israel, Palestine and Jordan to resist the radicals and “do everything to ensure that no citizen and no organization is faced with the threat of violence and intimidation.” The churches also called on “to start a dialogue with the aim of creating a special Christian cultural heritage zone in order to ensure the integrity of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem and preserve its unique identity and heritage.”
Earlier, the leaders and representatives of the Christian communities of Jerusalem held a rally at the Jaffa Gate of the old city, during which they called on the Israeli authorities to preserve the holy sites in the city important for believers. They feared that the famous “pilgrim street” leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher would be blocked. According to the DECR, for several years n-ow the Jerusalem Orthodox Church has been trying to defend its rights to several pilgrim houses in the C-hristian quarter of Jerus-alem, allegedly unjustly contested by Jewish radicalist public organizations.
In Jerusalem, Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic, Coptic, and Syrian churches are represented, which jointly manage the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – one of the main shrines of Christianity. In 2018, they decided to close the doors of the temple due to a dispute with the mayor’s office, which planned to tax their property. There are also communities of the Ethiopian Church and a number of Protestant denominations in the city.
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