ASIA/HOLY LAND – Catholic schools cancel strike, but Israeli government talks of ‘take over’
Jerusalem (Fides News Agency) – The past two years have been difficult for Catholic schools in Israel, particularly from the financial point of view: the Education Ministry has repeatedly reduced both subsidies to schools and grants to families. This caused considerable deficit for several schools last year. The Israeli authorities say Catholic schools there should become ‘state’ schools”: this would allow them to survive but at the high price of loss of specificity and identity. The Catholic community in the Holy Land considers the government position discriminatory and unacceptable.
Fides learned from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem that the Office for Catholic Schools had made many attempts at various levels to organize meetings and find a solution. The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land sent several letters to the Israeli Ministry of Education requesting a meeting, but received no reply in the past two years.
This led to the announcement of a strike for Monday 1st September, first day of school after Summer holidays: an action decided unanimously by the local College of Headmasters, known as ‘G 14’ and chaired by Fr. Abdelmassih Fahim, in the presence of Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo. The strike aimed to stigmatise silence on the part of the Israeli government, deaf to all forms of solicitation to tackle the problemand the present situation of difficulty and unease for Catholic schools in the Holy Land.
The announcement of the strike brought an immediate reaction from the Ministry of Education which gave a date for a meeting to discuss the difficulties and find solutions. Following this positive attitude, the G14 said it was ready to listen and that the strike was cancelled. The situation for Catholic schools in Israel is highly precarious and many are in danger of closing. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/8/2014)
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