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Jordan, Vatican discuss Israel’s restrictions on freedom of worship in Jerusalem

December 23, 2023 at 2:20 pm

The entrance to the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family in Palestine [Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Jordan and the Vatican discussed on Friday the Israeli restrictions imposed on freedom of worship in Jerusalem and the “disastrous” repercussions of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

The discussion occurred during a phone call between Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his Vatican counterpart, Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, according to a statement by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, seen by Anadolu Agency.

The statement conveyed that Safadi discussed with Gallagher: “The restrictions imposed by Israel on freedom of worship in Jerusalem, including closing West Bank cities, the city of Bethlehem and preventing worshippers from practising their religious rituals, especially during Christmas.”

Safadi affirmed Jordan’s “absolute” condemnation of all Israeli measures that represent: “An attack on the freedom of Muslims and Christians to worship in occupied Jerusalem, and a violation of international law.”

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According to the statement, the two sides also discussed: “The catastrophic repercussions of the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the efforts made to formulate a definitive and effective international position to stop it.”

The Jordanian minister condemned: “Israel’s killing of two women in the Holy Family Church in Gaza on 16 December and the siege it imposes on the church and 2.3 million other Palestinians in Gaza.”

On Saturday, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced that a Christian woman and her daughter were killed inside the Holy Family Church by Israeli army gunfire in Gaza City.

Safadi pointed out: “The Israeli aggression against Gaza imposed sadness and suffering and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe and deprived Christians of the joy of celebrating Christmas.”

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The statement relayed that Pope Francis (the Pope of the Vatican) sent Cardinal Konrad Krajewski to Palestine and Israel on Friday as a concrete sign of the Pope’s solidarity with the suffering of those who directly experience the consequences of war, according to the statement issued by the Vatican.

Several days ago, Christian communities in the Palestinian territories announced the cancellation of all Christmas celebrations, including the lighting of the Christmas tree, due to the war in Gaza, in a message of solidarity from the heads of Christian churches.

Christians in Gaza represent a small percentage of the population, with only about 1,000 people living in the besieged Strip, the majority of whom are Greek Orthodox. A much smaller percentage are Roman Catholics, Baptists and other Protestant denominations, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the YMCA.

Since 7 October, the Israeli army has been waging a devastating genocidal war on Gaza, which, as of Friday morning, left 20,57 martyrs and 53,320 wounded, most of whom are women and children. The war also resulted in massive infrastructure destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, according to the Gaza Strip and United Nations authorities.

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