The Place Where Christmas Began Won´t Celebrate It

Bethlehem Will Have Only Religious Ceremonies

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The municipality of Bethlehem has canceled Christmas celebrations because of the violence in the Palestinian Territories.

Mayor Hanna Naser made the announcement before the latest round of Mideast violence over the weekend.

The mayor said the measure is highly political and blamed Israel for the cancellation of celebrations, given its operations against the Palestinian people.

The municipality of Jesus´ birthplace has taken this measure for the second consecutive year. Only religious ceremonies will take place. Midnight Mass will be retransmitted on television throughout the world.

Naser explained that at present “there is nothing to celebrate.”

As happens every year, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem, a Palestinian native of Nazareth, will go to celebrate midnight Mass in the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine, next to the Square of the Manger.

Bethlehem, about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) south of Jerusalem, has become a focus of hostilities since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

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