ASIA/ISRAEL - President Rivlin to Churches: our sovereignty over Jerusalem guarantees religious freedom for all

Friday, 29 December 2017 middle east   oriental churches   holy places   jerusalem  

(Mark Neiman-GPO)

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The sovereignty of the State of Israel over Jerusalem, recognized by the US Administration with a one-sided choice rejected by a very large majority by the UN, "will never compromise the freedom of worship and religion for all believers", because the State of Israel is "deeply committed to ensuring the religious rights of worship and activities of all communities of faith, in Jerusalem and throughout Israel". With these words, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wanted to reassure the Heads and representatives of the Churches and Christian communities present in Israel, whom he met in the presidential residence on Wednesday, December 27, on the occasion of the traditional annual reception in view of the beginning of the new year. The meeting was attended, among others, by Israeli Interior Minister Arieh Deri, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton ofm and Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. "A meeting with Churches representatives is always important to me, but when we face troubled times, it becomes even more important", said Rivlin on receiving his guests, with an allusion to the unanimous criticism that the choice of Trump’s Administration has gathered among the representatives of the Middle Eastern Churches. The Head of State also wanted to point out to his interlocutors a sort of elective affinity between the violence suffered by Christians in many parts of the Middle East and the events experienced by the Jewish State in its historical journey: "In recent years", Rivlin said our region has known so much bloodshed, so much pain, so much suffering. During this dark period, no community has been persecuted more than Christians, in all the Countries around us. I pray together with all of you for their well-being", added the President of the Jewish State" we know what it means to be attacked, to be persecuted just because of our faith, and we are heartbroken to see the suffering". Interior Minister Arieh Deri - one of the founders of Shas, political acronym of Sephardic Orthodox Jews – on his behalf defined the recognition of Jerusalem as Capital of Israel as "a gift received from the President of the United Stated Trump", adding that Jerusalem "will continue to be a city of peace for all believers, in which everyone can pray in freedom and equality".
Speaking on behalf of the Christian communities, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III reiterated the anxieties and concerns about the risks of tampering and violation of the Status Quo, the set of acquired rights, rules and customs on which the coexistence of the different faith communities in the Holy City is based. Patriarch Theophilos also expressed the wish that civil authorities should act as a barrier to "radical groups that want to make Jerusalem a closed society". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 29/12/2017)