Aid Group Decries Escalation of Anti-Christian Violence in Holy Land

A monk walks near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before the start of the Easter Sunday s

ROME — The pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has denounced a sharp rise in anti-Christian incidents in the Holy Land, including “attacks on holy sites, schools and even funeral processions.”

In its April 14 email, the group references a recent joint statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem condemning increasing violence against Christians in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Holy Land.

“For over the past year, some of our churches, funeral processions, and places of public gathering have become targets of attack; some of our holy sites and cemeteries have been desecrated; and some of our ancient liturgies, such as the Palm Sunday Procession and the Holy Fire Ceremony, have been closed off to thousands of worshipers,” the joint statement notes.

“This is in spite of our agreements to cooperate with the governing authorities, and to accommodate any reasonable requests that they might present,” it adds.

In its message, ACN observes that before the State of Israel was established in 1948, “Christians made up 18 percent of the population of the West Bank – that figure is now less than 1 percent.”

File/An Israeli border guard stands next to anti-Christian graffiti reading in Hebrew, “Jesus is monkey” that was daubed on the Church of the Dormition, one of Jerusalem’s leading pilgrimage sites, early on May 31, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Christians have emigrated for various reasons, the group asserts, including “concerns about discrimination in employment, militant groups and restrictions on movement caused by the West Bank Barrier which gives rise to major economic problems.”

The Times of Israel has similarly denounced growing anti-Christian violence in the Holy Land, blaming some of the aggression on “Jewish extremists.”

Jerusalem’s Christian leaders “tell of a deteriorating atmosphere of harassment, apathy from authorities, and a growing fear that incidents of spitting and vandalism could turn into something far darker,” the paper reported.

Father Francesco Patton, Custodian of the Holy Land, cited seven anti-Christian incidents that have taken place in recent weeks, declaring that “it is no coincidence that these serious incidents are taking place specifically now.”

“We are horrified and hurt in the wake of the many incidents of violence and hatred that have taken place recently against the Catholic community in Israel,” the priest said.

“We expect and demand from the Israeli government and law enforcement to act with determination to stamp these serious phenomena,” he said.

File/A Muslim Palestinian man cleans graffiti from the wall of the Christian Catholic Latrun monastery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv a day after it was vandalized by unknown men, on September 5, 2012. Vandals burnt the door of the Catholic monastery and scrawled anti-Christian graffiti in an apparent hate crime, police and witnesses said, putting pressure on authorities to take strong action. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GettyImages)

In its own statement, the Greek Orthodox Church said that terrorist attacks by radical Israeli groups, targeting churches, cemeteries, and Christian properties “have become almost a daily occurrence that evidently increases in intensity during Christian holidays.”

These attacks have included the desecration of graves at the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, vandalism at the Maronite community center in the northern city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha, and the defacing of Jerusalem’s Armenian community buildings, with graffiti promising “revenge,” “death to Christians,” “death to Arabs and gentiles” and “death to Armenians.”

Thomas D. Williams is Breitbart Rome Bureau Chief and the author of The Coming Christian Persecution.


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