“Death to Christians”, “We will crucify you” and insults to Jesus and Mary.
Threats and insults like these have appeared on religious buildings in Jerusalem. Some anti-Christian writings were discovered on the walls of a church in Western Jerusalem.
This is already the second time this February that Christian places of worship have been targeted.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has reacted strongly against these “hateful and hostile acts” against Christians.
“We will crucify you” and “Death to Christians” are a couple of the messages found on the walls of the Church. Since mid February words such as “Death to Christians” and “The price to pay” have disfigured the front wall of the Monastery of the Cross in West Jerusalem.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem urges the authorities to find those guilty “as soon as possible” and hopes that society will be better prepared so that “we no longer have to experience any kind of fanaticism.”
In support of the local Christian community, the Coordination Group of Episcopal Conferences of Europe and North America has recently made a trip to the Holy Land in the places of Jesus.
After Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus and the Jordan River, the bishops landed in Jerusalem, where the Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal explained that the Christian minority is concerned “about two extremes, that of Islam with its attacks against churches and believers, and that of the right Israeli party that is increasingly invading Jerusalem, trying to transform it into a city of only Jews, excluding all other faiths.”
He added: “Our people need concrete steps to be taken in the field of justice, peace and dignity, it needs to be more involved. It no longer believes in the words of so many personages.”
Mgr. Joan Enric Vives Sicilia, Bishop of Urgell, Spain, and co-prince of Andorra also participated in the visit of the Coordination Group.
“It is very important to provide support to these small churches,” he pointed out to Vatican Radio. “Christians in the Holy Land are shocked by the anti-Christian violence. We are concerned for them, for the situation of Christians who are a minority in the Middle East. The people are brave and very aware of what they must do, which is to remain in their land”.
Many are concerned about the difficulties of everyday life, the lack of work. Very real and dramatic problems.
But the Bishop was nevertheless keen to emphasise that they retained their hope.
"We want share this hope with them, because when faith is confronted by martyrdom it becomes stronger, it becomes greater. This is the experience that these Christians, our brothers and sisters, share with all of us Christians of the West, who are more tired.”
Along the same lines, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal: “All religions must work together to build peace and respect for freedom of worship, this is the first essential step in this journey together”.
Religions are “a factor for peace”; therefore “all violence against places of worship as well as contempt for religious symbols must be condemned”.
The Patriarch sends out an appeal to “overcoming prejudice and learn our common values and thus to build bridges of common sense and good will, without forgetting the importance of dialogue that takes place in everyday life, within our schools and our various institutions”.
With regards to the Arab spring, the Middle Eastern religious leader reiterated his support for all the changes taking place in favour of democracy and freedom” and asks to always “respect human rights and the dignity of each individual”.
In addition, Monsignor Fouad Twal launches an appeal to government authorities of the various countries in the Middle East so that they make “every effort to calm the spirits without resorting to violence, protecting minorities that are an integral part of these peoples. We must learn to seize this moment to build a new society based on equal citizenship for all”.
With regards to the recognition of a Palestinian state, “the Holy See hopes for two states with internationally recognized and secure borders”. Points out Twal: “We are for the wellbeing of the whole world: for peace, security, mutual respect and dignity. The journey has begun, but it is still long. Being on one side does not mean being against the other”.
Today “we need to know that peace will arrive, that peace proclaimed by the angels, the peace in our hearts even before external peace made of meetings and agreements between nations”.
And “Jerusalem needs prayers and pilgrimages: come visit us and together we will pray for peace.”