Church at Jesus' traditional burial site reopens after protests

Pauline Gross
March 2, 2018

Today we celebrate again the hope of the Resurrection and rejoice that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can once more be open to pilgrims.

Christian leaders are angry over attempts by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem to enforce tax collection on church property they consider commercial, saying exemptions only apply to places of worship or religious teaching.

In a statement Monday, Cardinal Edwin O'Brien described the closing of the church as "a rare and desperate initiative to keep Christian life alive in the Holy Land" and a protest of what he called Jerusalem's "systematic campaign against the churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said a professional team, including representatives from the Jerusalem municipality as well as government ministries, was being established to negotiate with church officials to "formulate a solution". Church leaders compared the measures to laws "enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe".

The Bill, brought by Rachel Azaria, of the Kulanu party, would enable the Israeli government to confiscate lands leased by Churches and assign them to third parties.

The Jordanian government said it was in "full solidarity" with the Christian churches in Jerusalem and accused the Israelis of violating "international and humanitarian laws".

The committee is also slated to look at the issue of Jerusalem land sales by the Greek Orthodox Church.

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In October, Haaretz reported on a number of cases brought to light in recent months where the Greek Orthodox church sold land and assets at unreasonably low prices on the pretext of having debts to pay.

The threat, according to Palestinian Media Watch, comes from Sheik Muhammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem.

The church is located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital of their future state. The move was accompanied by angry reactions from the Palestinians, who see part of Jerusalem as their future capital, and dire warnings of increased tensions from the global community.

Church leaders in Jerusalem shut the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He said other cities followed similar practices worldwide.

"This abhorrent bill. would make the expropriation of the lands of churches possible".

Rabbi Mordecahi Persoss said that Trump, like Cyrus, made a "big declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of the holy people".

A woman kisses the Stone of Unction, or Stone of Anointing, representing where the body of Jesus was prepared for burial after the crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City Feb. 28.

Other reports by GizPress

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