ASIA/ISRAEL - The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem say no to the taxation of ecclesiastical properties

Thursday, 15 February 2018 middle east   oriental churches   jerusalem   holy places  


Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The intention declared by the municipality of Jerusalem to impose municipal taxes on Church properties "contradicts the historical position between Churches and civil authorities over the centuries". This was written by the Heads of Churches and Ecclesial Communities present in Jerusalem, in a statement released on Wednesday 14 February, in which they explained the reasons for their clear and shared opposition to the new fiscal measures put in place by Israeli politicians and administrators of the Holy City. Civil authorities - the text reads - have always recognized and respected the great contribution that Christian Churches have offered to the community through the works - hospitals, schools and homes - funded especially for the disadvantaged and the elderly. The project of taxation on ecclesiastical properties - the Heads of Churches of the Holy City write - "undermines the sacred character of Jerusalem, and jeopardizes the ability of Churches to conduct their ministry in this land", to the benefit of their communities and Christian communities all over the world.
The heads of the Churches of Jerusalem invite the municipality of Jerusalem to review their decisions on tax matters, to safeguard the Status Quo - the set of rules and customs on which the coexistence of the different religious communities is based in Jerusalem - and not to jeorpadize the profile and nature of the Holy City.
The pronouncement, released 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, Father Francesco Patton OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, and Mgr. Georges Dankaye, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 15/2/2018)