Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In imperfect Union

Reports are coming out of the Church of the Nativity about an apparent brawl between Christian Sects who have control over the Holy Site.

Unholy Dust-up at Nativity Church - BBC

Priests scuffle inside Bethlehem Church - AP

From the AP article:

BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity on Thursday as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.
The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can set off vicious feuds.
On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners came to the fortress-like church to scrub and sweep the floors, walls and rafters ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in the first week of January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.
But the cleanup turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.
Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church.
Four people, some with blood running from their faces, were slightly wounded.

This unfortunately isn't unusual. The various sects have been known to fight before over various trespasses on territory or implied insults. Such was the case in 2004 when the Franciscans left the door to their chapel open and the Greeks were beginning a service and took it as a grave insult. That was at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. US News & World Report recently published (Nov. 16, 2007) an interesting piece as to the tensions and some of the back ground.

This stands stark in contrast against the apparent advances in dialog and ecumenism as happened earlier in November. See also the post on Avery Dulles.

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