Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday Mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 4, 2021

Israel says Christian community growing despite Church's claims

Government refutes claims by Church leaders that Israel actively working to drive away the local Christian population; adds country's Christian community 'constantly growing and is part of the unique fabric of Israeli society'

AFP |
Published: 12.23.21, 12:51
Israel has said its Christian population is growing, days after the most senior cleric in the Church of England backed accusations of a "concerted attempt" to drive the community away.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday that there were 182,000 Christians in the country, an increase of 1.4 percent on last year.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday Mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 4, 2021
    Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday Mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 4, 2021
    Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday Mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 4, 2021
    (Photo: AP)
    Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby raised hackles in Israel by decrying, alongside Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Hosam Naoum, a "steady decline" among Christians in east Jerusalem.
    "Church leaders believe that there are now fewer than 2,000 Christians left in the Old City of Jerusalem," the two wrote in a piece published by The Sunday Times.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby attends a special service at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) St. Stephen's Cathedral along Jogoo road in Nairobi, Kenya January 26, 2020
    Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby attends a special service at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) St. Stephen's Cathedral along Jogoo road in Nairobi, Kenya January 26, 2020
    Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
    (Photo: Reuters)
    They said an "escalation of physical and verbal abuse of Christian clergy, and vandalism of holy sites by fringe, radical groups" was a "concerted attempt" to drive Christians in Israel away.
    Their joint letter followed a December 13 plea from church leaders in Jerusalem who alleged that "radical groups continue to acquire strategic property in the Christian Quarter, with the aim of diminishing the Christian presence".
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    The  Christmas festival at the New Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, December 16, 2021.
    The  Christmas festival at the New Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, December 16, 2021.
    The Christmas festival at the New Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, December 16, 2021
    (Photo: Flash90)
    The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said the accusations were "baseless, and distort the reality of the Christian community in Israel."
    "The Christian population in Israel -– including in Jerusalem -– enjoys full freedom of religion and of worship, is constantly growing, and is part of the unique fabric of Israeli society," it said in a statement Monday.
    East Jerusalem includes the Old City, as well as a verity of Christian holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the faithful believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
    Welby and Naoum said Palestinian Christians were leaving the West Bank due to "the growth of settler communities" and movement restrictions.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    n American pilgrim walks to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem,
    n American pilgrim walks to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem,
    An American pilgrim walks to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem
    (Photo: AP)
    The foreign ministry said Israel was "committed to freedom of religion and worship for all religions, as well to ensuring the freedom of access to holy sites".
    "The statement by Church leaders in Jerusalem is particularly infuriating given their silence on the plight of many Christian communities in the Middle East suffering from discrimination and persecution," it added.
    Talkbacks for this article 0