and Dear Fathers
The following is a cry from Palestinian Christians who were in the City of Jerusalem on Good Friday.
This was published in Facebook this week with the following photos
To our Venerable Heads of Churches:
After having lived a hard experience in trying to attend the celebration of Easter, this year, in the Holy Sepulchre, we feel compelled to address you this “angry” but sincere letter.
You keep telling us that we are the descendants of the Apostles, and of the first Christian community, the first who believed in Jesus Christ, the first who proclaimed His Gospel to the world.
You tell us: that we have suffered so many persecutions, under various governments and military occupations along centuries. We are proud of you because you are still here perseverant in the land where Jesus Christ was born, taught, suffered, died and resurrected.
You tell us, come and pray as Jesus prayed.
You tell us all that, and on the day of Easter, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest of our Churches, we were forbidden to pray. And you know that. On the day of our Easter, we have lived a religious and human tragedy.
The celebrations of Easter, according to the Gregorian calendar, this year, was the worst that happened. Christians from Gaza were forbidden to reach Jerusalem. All Christians from all occupied Palestine were forced to ask for military permits in order to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem, and only 6 thousand permits were given. Then, all occupied Palestine was closed, and those who had permits could not use them.
Military barriers were put in the Old city of Jerusalem, Christian Palestinians, from the Christian Quarter could not reach the Holy Sepulchre Church.
All the ways going to the Holy Sepulchre were closed.
All entrances to the Holy Sepulchre were closed.
The place before the Basilica was closed
Inside the Church were also military barriers, even around the “Stone of Anointment” and the “Sepulchre”.
Christians were forbidden to reach freely to the Church. The soldiers agressed them.
Whose intention is it to forbid us to pray in the Holy Sepulchre?
The Church was full with Israeli soldiers with their weapons, guns, hats, eating sandwiches, joking, speaking with their mobile phones, hearing songs, laughing loudly, crying on the faithful…
This church is the place of our prayer and not a military caserne. The word of Jesus apply on our situation: “My house is a place of prayer and you converted it to a military camp” (Cf Lc 19,45 sq).
We ask all our Heads, the three Patriarachs, the Franciscan Custos, and all the Churches to ask the police and the army not to close the entrances of the Church neither to be in the Church with their guns and impolite manners. Please take the necessary measures.
Say a word of truth to the Israeli Authorities. Let Christians reach freely their Church on the day of their feast.
Order cannot be used as pretext for all this tragedy and violation of the sacredness of our Holy Places and our Feasts.
We prayed hundreds of years in the Holy Sepulchre without all this heavy military and insolent presence. Tens of thousands celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem without such military presence. In Ramallah more Christians than in Jerusalem celebrate the Holy Fire and have no need to all this military “order”.
Our dear and venerable Heads of Churches, your silence kill us. Do you not see the soldiers and their guns, and their attitudes? Please say a word of truth. And let us pray on the day of our Easter in our Churches.