As Western Christian churches commemorate Easter weekend, and Eastern Orthodox churches prepare for Holy Week, the Palestinian Christians remain under Israeli military occupation — and church leaders around the world have joined the call by Palestinian Christian leaders to end the occupation and violence.
Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury in England, issued a statement Saturday renewing support for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
He joined the call of Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, asking the Christians of the world to pray for world peace.
Earlier in the week, Christian religious figures and leaders in Europe and the US also joined the call for peace in the Holy Land.
Patriarch Theophilos III had stated, “From the heart of the Holy City of Jerusalem, the place of Jesus Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we urge all Christian people throughout the world to join me reciting in prayer Psalm 23 every Friday, beseeching the Lord for his gift of peace. As we approach the great feast of Pascha/Easter, let us pray together for peace and reconciliation, between nations, in our homes and in our hearts. As we reflect upon the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us ask God our Good Shepherd to lead his world into peace.”
The day after the call by the Archbishop of Jerusalem, Westminster Abbey responded to the call and shared it with their congregants.
The Archbishop asked all Christians around the world to join the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in reciting Psalm 23 every Friday in supplication to God for the gift of peace.
The call comes in the midst of increased bloodshed, particularly in the Old City of Jerusalem, where on Friday alone, over 100 Palestinian worshipers were injured by Israeli forces who attacked the mosque where they had gathered to pray.
According to the Orthodox Patriarch’s website, just two weeks prior to this call, “Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, the Custodian of the Holy Land, Francesco Patton, and the manager of the Imperial and Petra pilgrims’ houses, Valid Dajani, who called upon the public to prevent the capture of the buildings in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem by radical Judaic groups. They also pointed to the need to preserve the status quo of the Old City and especially the so-called “Pilgrims’ Path” – the street leading from the Jaffa Gate to the Church of the Lord’s Sepulchre.
“As Patriarch Theophilos stressed, if the buildings, which stand on the both sides of the Pilgrims’ Path, are moved to the property of Judaic religious organizations, then the key-street of the Old City, in which millions of pilgrims usually walk to the greatest shrine of the world may be fully blocked for Christians. In addition, religious radicals presented a real threat the stability and health of the whole society, His Beatitude stated.
“He recounted that the Christian community of Jerusalem continuously suffered from crimes committed on the grounds of religious hatred and from behind-the-scenes tactics of intimidation and regular attempts to limit the opportunity for Christians to remain in their historical houses and quarters.
“For several years now, the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem has tried to defend its rights to several pilgrims’ houses in the Christian quarter in Jerusalem, which are unfairly claimed by Judaic radical public organizations. A previous similar protest action took place on December 2021, as heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem addressed a multitude of Jerusalem’s Christians from the balcony of the Imperial pilgrims’ house, stating the inadmissibility of a review of the status quo of the Old City.
“A few days after that, on December 13, thirteen Christian Patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued a joint statement drawing attention of the state authorities and public to the threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land caused by the activity of religious groups, including physical assaults and insults to the clergy, attacks on Christian churches and acts of vandalism against shrines, as well as attempts to violate the integrity and cultural identity of the Christian quarter of the Old City with the aim to ultimately drive the Christian community away from Jerusalem. The text of the statement was published on the official website of Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as well as in printed and ecclesial network resources in Jerusalem. In the beginning of 2022, representatives of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission conveyed to the Patriarch of Jerusalem a list of acts of vandalism towards Russian churches in the Holy Land during 2021.”