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Jerusalem church leaders: Israel threatening Christian presence in the city

Roman Catholic clergy hold candles as they circle the edicule during the Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on 18 April 2019 [GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images]
Roman Catholic clergy at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on 18 April 2019 [GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images]

As many as 13 church leaders in the occupied city of Jerusalem yesterday warned that the Israeli court's decision concerning the Greek Orthodox Church's property at Jaffa Gate threatens the Christian presence in the holy city, Anadolu reported.

In a joint statement, they said: "We, the Heads of the Churches and Christian Communities in Jerusalem, stand united in our commitment to safeguard the historical Status Quo of the Holy Sites and rights of the Churches which are universally recognized. The case of Jaffa Gate threatens this Status Quo. We are concerned by the recent judgment of the District Court of Jerusalem, which dismissed evidence demonstrating the Greek Orthodox Church's case. We strongly support the efforts of the Greek Orthodox Church in their plea for justice."

This comes after the Jerusalem District Court last week rejected a petition filed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate contesting the ownership of a Jaffa Gate property claimed by Jewish settler organisations.

"We don't see this case as a mere property dispute. We see the undertaking of radical groups to take control of properties at Jaffa Gate as a systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the Holy City, to obstruct the Christian pilgrim route and to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem," they added.

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In their statement, the church leaders called on the Israeli government "to act in order to safeguard the integrity of the Christian heritage and patrimony in the Old City, as well as the Holy Sites and the rights of the residents of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem."

"These are places which over two billion Christians around the world look at as the very heart of their faith; which millions of Christian pilgrims visit each year; and in which the local Christians live out their faith," they added.

The statement was signed by a number of renowned church leaders in Jerusalem including Patriarch Theophilos Ill, Greek Orthodox, Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator and Latin Patriarchate, Fr. Francesco Patton.

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