Catholic World News

Jerusalem’s Christian leaders insist on free access to sacred sites for all

July 20, 2017

All of the major Christian leaders in Jerusalem have issued a joint statement of “serious concern” about the rise in tensions at the Temple Mount, where two police officers were killed by gunmen last week.

Israeli officials closed the Al Aqsa mosque to worshippers after the shooting last Friday, and installed metal detectors at the site. The Christian leaders questioned the prudence of these measures. “Every threat to the continuity of the Status Quo can lead to serious and unpredictable consequences, which should be the least desirable in the present climate of religious tension,” they warned. (In Jerusalem, the “Status Quo” refers to the arrangement under which all religious believers have access to their own sacred sites.) The Christian leaders pointed out that the Status Quo places the Temple Mount under the protection of the Kingdom of Jordan, and guarantees free access to the Al Aqsa mosque for Muslims.

The joint statement by Christian leaders was signed by:

  • Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Jerusalem;
  • Patriarch Nourhan Manougian of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox patriarchate;
  • Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin-rite Catholic patriarchate;
  • Father Francesco Patton, the head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land;
  • Archbishop Anba Antonious of the Coptic Orthodox patriarchate;
  • Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad of the Syrian Orthodox patriarchate;
  • Archbishop Aba Embakob of the Ethiopian Orthodox patriarchate;
  • Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey of the Melkite Catholic patriarchate;
  • Archbishop Mosa El-Hage of the Maronite Catholic patriarchal exarchate;
  • Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East;
  • Bishop Munib Younan of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land;
  • Bishop Pierre Malki of the Syrian Catholic patriarchal exarchate; and
  • Msgr. Georges Dankaye’ of the Armenian Catholic patriarchal exarchate.


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jul. 21, 2017 6:55 AM ET USA

    The Holy City should be free from the radicals on both sides; unfortunately it is not. It is incumbent on all the leaders, Christian (where there is no threat of violence), Jewish and Muslim to respect the Status Quo. Otherwise pilgrimage will dry up, the fragile economies will break, and there will be war.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jul. 20, 2017 5:31 PM ET USA

    The only people that should fear metal detectors are people who have something to hide, and it in no way hinders free access.