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Monday, February 26, 2018

Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre Shuts Indefinitely Amid Fierce Row with Israel

Jerusalem's famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre has shut indefinitely in an unprecedented move amid a fierce row with the Israeli government.

The church is the holiest site in Christianity and is held to contain the two sites where Jesus was crucified then buried and resurrected.

It is highly unusual for the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic denominations, who all share custody of the church, to agree to a stance as dramatic as closing the whole site and tensions between denominations often run high over control of its various chapels and compartments.

But the separate leaders issued a joint statement saying the move was 'in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land'.

Worshippers hold candles as they take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The shock move comes amid a tense fallout with the Israeli government over a bill that would give the Israeli government power to confiscate church property. The 'Bill of Church Lands', sponsored by Israeli settler groups and signed by 40 members of Israel's Knesset, was branded 'discriminatory and racist' as well as 'abhorrent' in the strongly worded statement signed by Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land and Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.

It amounts to a 'systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land', the church leaders said in a statement on Sunday.

Read more at Christianity Today >> 

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