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Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, walks the Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (OSV News /Debbie Hill)

With tensions in Israel increasing as the Easter holiday approaches, Christian leaders in the country have lamented a rise in violence and made an appeal to national leaders to collaborate and put an end to discrimination. Source: Crux.

The message, signed by the Patriarchs and Heads of churches in Jerusalem, pointed to a biblical passage from the First Letter of Saint Peter in which the apostle says that Jesus’s resurrection offers the world “a new birth into a living hope”.

“That hope would sustain the Apostles and early Christians through many trials and tribulations, giving them the strength to endure with joy, dignity, and grace,” the religious leaders said.

The Christian leaders pointed to an escalation of violence which they said “has engulfed the Holy Land” in recent months, noting that local Christians in particular “have increasingly suffered adversities similar to the ones about which St Peter wrote”.

“Over the past year, some of our churches, funeral processions, and places of public gathering have become targets of attack; some of our holy sites and cemeteries have been desecrated; and some of our ancient liturgies, such as the Palm Sunday Procession and the Holy Fire Ceremony, have been closed off to thousands of worshipers,” they said.

All this has happened, they said, “in spite of our agreements to cooperate with the governing authorities, and to accommodate any reasonable requests that they might present”.

Over the past few months, there have been increased attacks between Israelis and Palestinians, and the formation last (northern) fall of Israel’s far-Right nationalist coalition, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sparked fears among many Christians and other minorities of a rise in religious discrimination.


Christian leaders in Holy Land make Easter appeal for peace amid spiral of violence (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)