Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - According to the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem, "a systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the Holy City" and "to weaken the Christian
presence in the Holy City" is in progress. This project clearly manifests itself in the "recent violations of the Status Quo" of the Holy Sites, and also a bill signed by about forty members of the Israeli Parliament, "limiting the rights of the Churches on our properties". 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 our life for centuries".
The document, published yesterday by the official channels of the Churches, is signed by thirteen heads of Churches and Christian communities present in Jerusalem. The list of signatories is opened by Teophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and also includes Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Father Francesco Patton OFM, Custos of the Holy Land.
What triggered the Christian Churches’ concerns regarding the Status quo that regulates coexistence between religious communities in the Old City of Jerusalem was the ruling with which the Israeli Court, at the beginning of August, after a long controversy, rejected the legal initiatives with which the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem had attempted to recognize the acquisition of some of its properties by the Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim, which took place in 2004, as "illegal" and "unauthorized". There have been further actions that are a clear breach of the Status Quo. The judgement in the “Jaffa Gate” case against the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which heads of Churches regard as unjust, as well as a proposed bill in the Knesset
which is politically motivated.
The reported attempts - states the document - do not concern a single Church, but strike all of us and strike Christians and all people of good will all over the world. We have always been faithful - write the Christian leaders - to our mission to ensure that Jerusalem and the Holy Sites are open to all, without distinction or discrimination. The signatories also agree to support the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Israel against the ruling held in August. They appeal to Christian leaders and the faithful from all over the world, and also to government leaders, so that they can find widespread and international support for all initiatives aimed at ensuring respect for the rules of the Status Squo in the Holy Sites as a concrete contribution to the establishment of a "just and lasting peace" throughout the region. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 5/9/2017)