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Church leaders ‘united’ in defence of Jerusalem

By JT - Sep 04,2017 - Last updated at Sep 04,2017

AMMAN — Heads of churches in Jerusalem on Monday issued a statement expressing their concern over Israeli violations of the status quo of the city’s holy sites.

In July 2017, the heads of the Churches in Jerusalem were issued a similar statement of concern regarding Israeli breaches of the status quo in East Jerusalem and the rights and privileges of the city’s churches

According to the Monday statement, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times, the status quo is “universally recognised by both religious authorities and governments, and has always been upheld by the civil authorities of our region”, they said.

"We now find ourselves united once again in condemning recent further encroachment on the status quo," the statement quoted heads of churches as saying. 

In such matters as this, the heads of the churches are resolute and united in their opposition to any action by any authority or group that undermines those laws, agreements, and regulations that have ordered life for centuries, they added.

The judgement in the “Jaffa Gate” case against the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which “we regard as unjust”, as well as a proposed bill in the Knesset which is “politically motivated” that would restrict the rights of the churches over “our own property, are further assaults on the rights that the status quo has always guaranteed”, the statement added.

Israel’s Jerusalem District Court upheld last month a set of alleged real estate deals between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Israeli organisation Ateret Cohanim for two hotels near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, reports have said. 

The court ruled there was no evidence of the deals resulting from fraud or bribery. The church asserts that the deal, conducted in 2004, was conducted illegally.

In response, the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, All Palestine and Jordan Theophilos III held a press conference in Amman where he vowed to fight back the accusations.

“We see in these actions a systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the holy city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and to weaken the Christian presence,” they said. 

“We affirm in the clearest possible terms that a vital, vibrant Christian community is an essential element in the make-up of our diverse society, and threats to the Christian community can only increase the troubling tensions that have emerged in these turbulent times.”

Such attempts to undermine the Christian community of Jerusalem and the Holy Land do not affect one church only; they affect them all, and they affect Christians and all people of good will around the world, the church leaders’ statement added. 

“We have always been faithful to our mission to ensure that Jerusalem and the holy sites are open to all, without distinction or discrimination, and we are unanimous in our support of the actions, including a high court appeal, against the judgement in the “Jaffa Gate” case... ”

The heads of churches also called on fellow Church leaders and “the faithful around the world”, as well as the heads of governments, and “all people of good will, to support efforts aimed to ensure that no further attempts are made from any quarter to change the historical status quo and its provisions and spirit”.

“We cannot stress strongly enough the very serious situation that this recent systematic assault on the status quo has had on the integrity of Jerusalem and on the well being of the Christian communities of the Holy Land, as well as on the stability of our society,” they added. 

 

The heads of the churches in Jerusalem said that they “stand resolutely together in working for reconciliation and for a just and lasting peace in our region, and we ask God’s blessings on all the peoples of our beloved Holy Land”.

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