Desecration and vandalism are what Christians in Jerusalem are suffering at the hands of highly organized Jewish groups. An unprecedented number of churches as well as holy sites are reporting increased violence against priests and parishioners who are being assaulted and attacked.
The methods of attack vary from vandalism, verbal abuse, individual attacks and what’s called “aggressive property acquisition.” All committed by Jewish settlers.
Jerusalem has a long history, dating back at least to 4500 BCE. During that history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.
On May 14, the United States is opening an embassy in Jerusalem. This is the first country to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since Israel was established in 1948.
But what the embassy workers will find is a Christian church facing severe threat from these violent Jewish groups. The Jewish settlers are determined “…to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem,” said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III.
Father Neuhaus explained, “The attackers make no distinction among the Christian denomination [but] of course, Catholic institutions and individuals have had their share in bearing the brunt of these attacks.”
The Benedictine Dormition Abbey has been vandalized on a stunning five different occasions in recent years, filling the abbey with anti-Christian graffiti which was written in Hebrew.
Vandals smashed stained-glass windows and destroyed a statue of the Holy Mother at St. Stephen Church in the Beit Jamal Salesian monastery, 25 miles west of Jerusalem, back in September of 2017.
Some churches are taking a page from all the talk on border security around the world. One vandalized church north of Jerusalem has a fence project underway to help prevent future attacks.
Many believe the answer to the issue is an increased Christian presence in the area. “It is a priority and fundamental for all of us, therefore, to not only preserve, but rather to strengthen our presence in Jerusalem and preserve the Christian character of the Holy City,” wrote Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
It isn’t just Christians under attack either. According to locals these radical Jewish gangs hate anyone who isn’t Jewish and will also attack Muslims and mosques.
Most of the Christians living in Israel are ethnic Arabs belonging to either the Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, or Roman Catholic Churches. They are full of spirit and determination and are not backing down from the violence but have pushed on to help keep a Christian presence in the faith’s most holy city.