Bethlehem Expects to See Religious Celebrations for Christmas

JERUSALEM, NOV. 29, 2002 ( Bethlehem will celebrate Christmas after all.

After Yasser Arafat announced the cancellation of secular Christmas festivities in Bethlehem due to the Israeli occupation, the spokesman of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land clarified that the religious feasts will be observed.

Father David Jaeger told Vatican Radio, “There is no intention on our part to suspend religious observances in Bethlehem for Holy Christmas.”

“These celebrations,” he said, “are protected by the juridical regime of the status quo guaranteed especially by Article 4 of the basic agreement between the Vatican and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as by the analogous Article 4 of the fundamental agreement between the Vatican and the state of Israel.”