Written by: Elizabeth Owen
(ZENIT News / Jerusalem, 13.06.2022).- As a result of a decision of the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice regarding a property in litigation between a Christian community of the Holy Land, specifically in Jerusalem, and an Israeli extremist society (Ateret Cohanim), which seeks to invade the Christian and Muslim zone of the Old City, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem made some important statements to Vatican Radio.
Asked about his opinion on Israel’s Supreme Court decision regarding real estate of Jerusalem’s Greek-Orthodox Church, Monsignor Pierbatista Pizzaballa said:
“It’s a subject that goes back many years throughout which there have been diatribes and fights of all sorts. However, beyond the specific issue, in which I’m unable to enter because I don’t know all the details, I can say, however, that over the last years we have witnessed, especially on the part of some Israeli extremist and radical fringes, an attempt to take advantage of the weakness of the Churches to appropriate strategic properties, in this case close to the Jaffa Gate in the Old City, which are really strategic, and thus try to create “facts” in the territory, something that we contend and contest.”
Asked, then, about the situation of the Catholic Church’s properties in Jerusalem, the Patriarch answered:
“I would say that it’s a particular moment, in the sense that the Catholic Church doesn’t have as many properties as the Orthodox, but there continue to be many properties that, however — as I believe is also true in many other parts of the world, — here, too, they are increasingly difficult to manage, both for their ordinary as well as their extraordinary maintenance, and because of the changing laws and the increasing taxes. They are becoming a great concern and, in any case, these properties are important because they are a tool we need to be able to express ourselves with our activities, such as in the case of schools, hospitals, residences for the elderly … which we can express inside these properties. So the moment is somewhat special also because, especially after two years of pandemic, the resources have diminished even more.”
In February of this year the fact transcended that the Israeli Government could expropriate the Mount of Olives from the Church. Israel’s Embassy to the Holy See minimized the event.