Israel is Blocking the Accounts of the Latin Patriarch -- "Come, Pilgrimage in the Holy Land, Eat, Drink and Pray With Us"
(Jerusalem) "Israel has blocked the accounts of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem," says Msgr. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Archbishop of the Patriarchate and Patriarchal Vicar for Israel. The Patriarchal Vicar charges that several Israeli communal representatives have seized Church property. "Even my account was blocked," the Bishop told Asia News. The entire situation has "worsened." There is really "no real preparedness to restore peaceful relations. There is always a pretext to put it off. Every day there are new deaths, but nothing happens to restore talks."
Many Fronts: "Soon electricity and water will be cut off."
There are many fronts that have encircled the Christians of the land. One has fallen upon Catholic schools, which will suffer drastic cuts from the Israel Ministry of Educaton. Another front is a concerted attack from several community offices against the property and accounts of the Church. "We have been informed recently that in the past days that several town halls have blocked the accounts of clerics, religious and the church. It is an attempt to force the Church to pay a special tax which religious communities have been free from since the time of the Ottomans."
Even the account of the Patriarchal Vicar has been blocked: "with the bills that come to the house, and the blocked account, we run the danger that we'll soon have our electricity, gas and water shut off."
The same is reported by the Maronites from Haifa and religious communities in Jaffa. "The decisions were made by the city authorities." The government, however has done nothing about it. Officially the government says they are against the measures, but that hasn't helped us. We're not seeing a great desire to clarify the problem. The Nuncio has intervened with the foreign ministry, but that hasn't changed anything." The accounts, "don't merely impact individual persons.“ says the Patriarchal Vicar. They also affect schools and hospitals.
The Bishop also complains that the significant drop in the numbers of pilgrims is "not encouraging". As is seen, "we must speak of a complete crisis."
Holy Land pilgrimages have decreased since 2015 by 30 percent, compared to the number last year. "All European countries, except Poland, have decreased. Internationally, pilgrims are coming from Nigeria, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, but overall there is crisis. "
The decline of pilgrims has had a negative impact on the Christian communities in the Holy Land whether in Israel, in the Palestinian dsssssssterritories or in Jordan. "The pilgrims support the Christian community. If there are no pilgrims, many Christians have no income. With all the consequences for their families. "
The reason for the fall in the number of pilgrims has been the fear of attacks, the war in the Middle East and the Islamic State (IS).
Fear unfounded: "We pilgrims are respected"
"It is important to tell people that the horrific images on TV have nothing to do with the Holy Land. We have our problems, but these are other problems that are not from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land on the way. With us, no pilgrims are attacked. Christians and Muslims here respect pilgrims seeking God, so no one has to fear. "
All in all, said the Vicar, the situation in the Middle East is that peace is the crucial prerequisite to restore coexistence and dialog. The US and the EU should "correct their false Middle East policy: The support and financing of terrorists must be stopped, not only for the Islamic state , but for all terrorist groups."
Initiatives of the Holy Year of Mercy
In the Holy Year of Mercy a number of initiatives of all Christian communities has been launched. These mainly include visiting the sick, in hospitals and at home. "The sick can be powerful witnesses by the example of Saint Mariam Bawardi. We are also distributing relief supplies and food for the needy in Gaza and for the refugees in Jordan. During Lent, all priests have committed increasingly to make confession available. "
"Come to us for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, eat, drink and pray with us"
The Christians of the country would be left alone and isolated, which is true even for the children. A Finish diplomat recently saw this when visiting the Finnish ambassador in a Catholic school in Galilee. "She was welcomed by the children with such enthusiasm that the ambassador was surprised. It showed me how much they clamor that someone cares for them. Then they also draw hope. This applies to all Christians in the country. They need understanding and support. "
The way to support the Christians, "is a pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Come, come to us, eat and drink with us and pray with us," said the Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Custody of the Holy Land
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org Link to Katholisches...