The Churches of Jerusalem raise their voices high

The Churches of Jerusalem raise their voices high

By Fr. Rif’at Bader

Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, represented by their patriarchs and bishops, have issued a strong statement “expressing concern regarding breaches of the status quo” which can be traced back hundreds of years. This status quo is not only recognized by Churches, but also by countries that have played influential political roles in the past centuries.

What draws attention in this statement is the "unity of the Christian ranks" in Holy Jerusalem in condemning the Israeli encroachment on the property of the Orthodox Church at Jaffa Gate and changing its ownership, a matter which brought Patriarch Theophilos III to Amman to hold a press conference that was broadcast live on Jordan TV. The unity of the ranks in Jerusalem, namely 13 Churches, considered the violation of ownership of one of the Churches as an encroachment on all Churches and an aggression committed on every Christian in Jerusalem and on the Christian holy places.

Why do the Churches of Jerusalem protest? They do so because they view these measures as a systematic attempt to undermine the safety of Jerusalem and the Holy Land on the one hand, and as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence or to evict the rest of the Christian presence in the Holy City on the other. According to the statement, the Christian community is “vital, vibrant and an essential element in the make-up of our diverse society and threats to the Christian community can only increase the troubling tension that has emerged in these turbulent times.”

We emphasize that the determined action of the churches did not take place only for the sake of the Christian holy places.An earlier statement was issued in defence of Al Aqsa Mosque and called for ensuring the safety of the Islamic sites. This statement condemned all acts of violence and expressed concern regarding any changes in the historical status quo of Al Aqsa Mosque, its squares and in the entire city of Jerusalem. The heads of the Churches were among the first to arrive at the Al Aqsa Mosque after its gates were reopened.

We support the statement issued by heads of Churches in Jerusalem titled, “Learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed”--a quote taken from the Old Testament (Isaiah 1:17)--which is reminiscent of the importance of justice and love.We also support those who have been entrusted to protect the holy places and undertake pastoral supervision of the indigenous Christian societies in the Holy Land. We also urge the conscientious, including political officials and civil societies to do their utmost to ensure that Jerusalem will be open to all without discrimination and to support just causes that ensure non-repetition of attempts designed to change the status quo.

“Learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed.” Peace be upon you.

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