Israel: Christians’ situation is a source of great concern

Source: FSSPX News


Between January 22 and 24, behind closed doors at the Vatican, Bishop Antonio Franco, the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and in Palestine, spoke about the juridical and financial agreement between the Holy See and Israel concerning the status of the Church’s properties in the Holy Land, before the Assembly of Organizations for the Aid of the Eastern Churches (ROACO).

The nuncio declared: “The media often spoke of a willingness to reach an agreement as fast as possible, according to Israeli sources, but in reality, it seems that this objective is still a long way away.” The agreement, he explained, is “of vital importance” for the Church in Israel, because the recent creation of a municipal property tax could force Catholic institutions to “sacrifice themselves, and maybe to close down their houses.” The working party at the Vatican, on December 13, with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, ended with “no substantial progress”, he added.

Bishop Antonio Franco referred to the “war in Lebanon and Gaza with its grave consequences on the life of the Church.” Thus the drastic diminution of pilgrimages “directly affects those who make their living through them, especially the Christians”, together with “the increasing uncertainty and fear.” “Even the more optimistic do not manage to see a gleam of hope or any progress towards a solution to the radical problems which obstruct the road to peace in the area,” declared the nuncio.

Bishop Antonio Maria Veglio, secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches at the Vatican, pointed out on the airwaves of Vatican Radio that Lebanon “is for us, a source of great concern, just as the Holy Land, affected by the phenomenon of emigration. In these countries, Catholics and Christians see no future for themselves. Consequently, there is a continual hemorrhage, and the Christian presence keeps diminishing.”