Holy Land's Catholic Bishops Condemn Arson Against Church of Multiplication

Benedictine Church Was Built Where Jesus Multiplied Loaves and Fish Near Sea of Galilee

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The Catholic bishops of the Holy Land have unanimously condemned the arson attack on the Benedictine Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish.

In a statement released by the official media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land expressed strong condemnation of the arson attack against the Sanctuary of the Miracle of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, reported Fides on Friday.

The Roman Catholic Church is built where Christian tradition holds that Jesus miraculously multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed the 5,000 people who came to hear Him preach. The modern church was built on the remains of a fifth-century Byzantine church. Local sources report that more than 5,000 people visit the Church dailIy.

The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land wrote, «It is another act of violence perpetrated by intolerant and scrupulous individuals that damages the image of the Holy Land, offends Christians in this country and the Church as a whole, and distresses the idea of a state that defines itself as democratic, tolerant and secure.» 

The Catholic bishops lamented that the Benedictines of Mount Zion «are also incessantly subjected to acts of contempt and violence.»

This attack marks the third time that there have been similar criminal attacks against the Holy Land’s Benedictine community. On April 27, 2014, at the same site in Tabgha, young extremist Jews desecrated crosses and an altar. On May 26, 2014, after Pope Francis departed from his Apostolic visit to the Holy Land, a fire was started in the Benedictine Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion.

«Such criminal acts seriously undermine the coexistence of religious communities in the country,» they decried, stressing that «the education of young people in religious schools must be emphasized in favor of tolerance and coexistence.»

They also thanked the political and religious leaders who have condemned this act and expressed their solidarity, against those attacks which in recent months «were perpetrated against Christian sites or mosques, without the perpetrators being brought to justice.»

The Embassy of Israel to the Holy See, in a statement released shortly after the attack, also expressed condemnation against the various acts of intimidation. (D.C.L.)

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