Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The accusations made by Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches of the Holy Land regarding factors that threaten the presence of Christians in the land of Jesus "are baseless and distort the reality of the Christian community in Israel". Thus the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry Lior Haiat responded to the pronouncement released in mid-December by high representatives of the Churches and ecclesial communities of Jerusalem (see Fides, 15/12/2021), in which, among other things, reference was made to the "innumerable attacks" suffered by churches, monasteries and representatives of the clergy by "radical groups". Desecrations and assaults perpetrated with the clear aim of "expelling" the Christian presence from Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
In a statement with severe tones, also relaunched on Tuesday, December 21 by the Embassy of the Jewish State to the Holy See, the Israeli spokesman remarked that "the Christian population in Israel, including Jerusalem, enjoys full freedom of religion and worship, is constantly growing and is part of the unique fabric of Israeli society". The pronouncement of the Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem - warned Lior Haiat - "is irritating especially when one considers their silence on the difficult situation of many Christian communities in the Middle East, which suffer discrimination and persecution". "Religious leaders" highlighted the Israeli official "have a crucial role to play in education for tolerance and coexistence", and "Church leaders are expected to have an adequate understanding of this responsibility" and the potential consequences of their declarations , "which could cause violence and in their pronouncement in mid-December, as underlined by Fides, the Patriarchs and the Heads of the Churches of the Holy Land had also called for a "dialogue with the local governments that currently control the Holy Land in view of the creation of a "special area" of cultural protection with the aim of "safeguarding the integrity of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem" and "ensuring that its unique character and heritage are preserved for the good of the local community, our national life and throughout the world".
On Saturday, December 18, speaking with the British Daily Telegraph, Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, reiterated that in recent years the life of many Christians in Jerusalem and the Holy Land has been made "unsustainable by radical local groups with extremist ideologies". "It seems that their goal" added the Franciscan father "is to free the Old City of Jerusalem from its Christian presence, including the Christian quarter". The Custos of the Holy Land added that "These radical groups do not represent the government or the people of Israel. But as with any extremist faction, a radical minority can weigh too much on the lives of many, especially if their activities are not controlled and their crimes go unpunished". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 22/12/2021)