“Today the church faces a most severe threat at the hands of certain settler groups. The settlers are persistent in their attempts to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem. These radical settler groups are highly organized. Over the last years we have witnessed the desecration and vandalism of an unprecedented number of churches and holy sites and receive growing numbers of reports from priests and local worshippers who have been assaulted and attacked. Where the authorities are concerned, this behavior goes largely unchecked and unpunished.”
— Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem
Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City say their presence at the geographical heart of their faith is under threat from intimidation and aggressive property acquisition by hardline Jewish settlers.
According to church leaders, priests are being verbally abused and spat at, and property vandalized.
Tensions have risen this year in the Christian and Armenian quarters of the one square kilometer ancient walled city, which includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest place in Christianity where Jesus was believed to be crucified and resurrected. The Old City is also home to places of critical religious importance to Jews and Muslims.
“Israel is a sovereign state and it has the right to decide who will enter its gates. No foreign residents have an inherent right to enter Israel, including Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.”
— Civil Administration (COGAT) spokesman
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said church authorities had applied for around 600 permits for Gazans to travel, but had not received any, three days before Good Friday.
Israel tightly restricts movements out of the Gaza Strip, territory controlled by Hamas, an Islamist group that it considers a terrorist organization.
The Israeli military-run authority that operates in the West Bank defended its policy to restrict access as many Palestinians had stayed on illegally in the past, and said it would only issue permits to people aged at least 55.
During the Crusades, Saint Francis of Assisi risked his life by walking across enemy lines to meet the Sultan of Egypt, the Muslim ruler Al-Malik al-Kamil. This remarkable encounter, and the commitment to peace of the two men behind it, sucked the venom out of the Crusades and changed the relationship between Muslims and Christians for the better.
Featuring dramatic reenactments and renowned scholarship, this amazing story is brought to life. Scholars interviewed include Michael Cusato (St. Bonaventure University), Sr. Kathy Warren (Sisters of St. Francis), Suleiman Mourad (Smith College), Homayra Ziad, Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Paul Moses (The Saint and the Sultan), and others.
Join us for this film premiere to learn about the remarkable spiritual exchange between the Sultan and the Saint, and the great risks they took for peace.