Christian leaders in the Holy Land: “Jerusalem must never become the exclusive monopoly of one religion”
The bishops of the "Holy Land coordination", visiting the country from May 21 to 26, recall the importance of the Christian presence in the region. After two years of Covid-19, they also urge pilgrims to return to Israel.
On Thursday, May 26, the annual solidarity pilgrimage to Jerusalem of the bishops of the “Holy Land Coordination” ended.
In one communicated published at the end of this five-day trip, they emphasize the importance of the Christian presence in the Holy Land and insist on the difficulties faced by local Christians.
“Jerusalem is a Jewish city, a Christian city, a Muslim city. It must remain a common heritage and never become the exclusive monopoly of one religion in particular,” write the bishops of the coordination of the Holy Land at the beginning of this declaration.
They affirm that it is their “duty as Christians to defend the openness and universality of the city” and also recall that “the Christian community is essential to the identity of Jerusalem, today and for the future. 'coming ".
The bishops, however, believe that the presence of Christians is "threatened" and report the testimonies they heard on the spot. “Many of those we met face violence and intimidation” as well as “restrictions on their freedom of movement or separation from their families due to the status granted to them”, may -we read in the press release.
They also refer to the “concerns” expressed by the Christian community, in particular because of “the unilateral restrictions on freedom of worship imposed by the Israeli police during Passover” and the recent death of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
“We have experienced the deep sadness and anger felt by local Christians over the murder of Palestinian Catholic journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the shameful attack on mourners at her funeral. »
Finally, they describe great poverty "aggravated by the pandemic" and by "the absence of pilgrims" which has "devastated the means of subsistence" of a large part of the population, "including within the Christian community of Jerusalem”.
Yet the Catholic bishops say that amid "these challenges" there are "signs of hope".
“We visited Christian organizations that take responsibility for the well-being of their community and society in general. They work tirelessly to alleviate hardship and improve lives. We met young people who, despite facing daily violations of their basic human rights, refuse to be the last generation of Christians in the city. »
The statement concludes with a call for Western Catholics to return to the Holy Land and financially support local Christians.
“It is essential that all pilgrims understand and engage with the reality of Christian community life here. A true pilgrimage to the Holy Land must be a journey of faith, encounter and solidarity. »
Camille Westphal Perrier