Jerusalem Church leader warns ‘radical settlers’ are driving Christians out of the Holy Land

Jan 8, 2018 by

by James Macintyre, Christian Today:

The most senior Church leader in Jerusalem has warned that ‘radical settlers’ are threatening the ancient, religious ‘status quo’ in the Holy City by which Christians can live and worship in peace despite the stark political divisions there.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, wrote an opinion article in the Guardian yesterday on Orthodox Christmas highlighting a ‘church lands’ bill sponsored by settler groups and signed by 40 members of Israel’s Knesset that would restrict the rights of churches to deal independently with their own land, as well as threats to Church land around the Jaffa gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.

He accused the settlers of an ‘aggressive campaign of removing non-Jews from the City and from these strategic centres at the heart of the Christian quarter, threatening the very presence of Christians in the Holy Land’.

And in a reference to the political context in Jerusalem, and the move by the US unilaterally to recognise it as the capital of Israel, the Patriarch said: ‘Much attention has been paid recently to political decisions recognising Jerusalem in one light or another. The media attention highlights the seemingly intractable political struggle here. But as well as the threat to the political status quo, there is a threat also to the religious status quo, a threat instigated by radical settlers in and around Jerusalem, the heart of Christianity. And one group that has always been a pillar of society in the Holy Land – Christians – seems to have been rendered invisible in this standoff.’

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