ASIA/HOLY LAND - Bethlehem, a Franciscan priest attacked for defending the pilgrims

Monday, 4 June 2018 holy places   area crisis   middle east

Bethlehem (Agenzia Fides) - Franciscan priest, Father Fadi Shalufa, responsible for the "milk grotto" church, was attacked on 1 June by one of the two young men who had previously harassed a group of pilgrims in visit to the birthplace of Jesus. The two attackers were arrested by the Palestinian police.
Wadie Abunassar, spokesman for the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, reported the dynamics of the aggression, also to correct inaccurate versions, relaunched in local media and social networks. According to the spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, the two young men were disturbing a group of pilgrims heading towards the milk grotto church, adjacent to the Basilica of the Nativity. In the face of this behavior, Father Fadi limited himself to allowing the pilgrims to quickly enter the church, and then closed the gate and thus prevented access to the two attackers. From that moment the two began to shout against the friar, and one of them even tried to hit him with a blunt object (probably a knife) fortunately without hurting him. The scene took place in full view of a security camera (see photo). Wadi Abunassar thanked the National Authority for moving quickly and managed to stop the two attackers. And he invited social media users not to relaunch unverified versions of the incident. Also the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, as reported by the online information site, expressed confidence in the Palestinian authorities and in their commitment to ensure free access to the Holy Places, recalling that "the safety of pilgrims, both local and foreigners, Christians or Muslims, is as sacred as the sanctity of the places they visit". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/6/2018)