Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem says violence requires ‘an urgent intervention’

By Courtney Mares for CNA

The Old City of Jerusalem. / Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock.

Rome Newsroom, May 11, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is calling for justice and peace amid an escalation of violence in the city.

“Our Church has been clear that peace requires justice. Insofar as far as the rights of everyone, Israelis and Palestinians, are not upheld and respected, there will be no justice and therefore no peace in the city,” it said in a statement published May 10.

“It is our duty not to ignore injustice nor any aggression against human dignity regardless of who is committing them.”

Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa has served as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since November and governs the Latin Catholics in Israel and the Palestinian territories in that role.

The patriarchate said that the recent violence in East Jerusalem at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood had violated the “sanctity of the people of Jerusalem and of Jerusalem as the City of Peace and require of an urgent intervention.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, or Al-Aqsa Compound, in the Old City of Jerusalem was built on top of the Temple Mount, a location venerated as a holy site in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Violence broke out at the site on the night of May 7, the last Friday of Ramadan, between Israeli police and thousands of Palestinians gathered at the complex. More than 150 Palestinians and six Israeli police officers were injured, according to the BBC.

The Latin Patriarchate said that “the violence used against the worshippers undermines their safety and their rights to have access to the Holy Places and worship freely.”

“Palestinian worshippers have been denied access to Al-Aqsa Mosque during this month of Ramadan. These demonstrations of strength wound the spirit and soul of the Holy City, whose vocation is to be open and welcoming; to be a home for all believers, with equal rights and dignity and duties,” it said.

Since the patriarchate issued the statement, the situation has escalated further.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, fired rockets at Jerusalem on May 10. The attack was followed by Israeli military airstrikes that Palestinian authorities say killed 20 people.

The Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem issued a joint statement published May 10 calling on the international community to intervene to put an end to “provocative actions” and urging prayers for peace.

“The growing tension, backed mainly by right-wing radical groups, endangers the already fragile reality in and around Jerusalem,” it said.

The Catholic and Orthodox leaders appealed for “all parties to preserve the already sensitive situation in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

The Latin Patriarchate pointed to the forced evictions of Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood as “a main flashpoint amid rising tensions in Jerusalem in general.”

“The issue today is not a matter of a real-estate dispute between private parties. It is rather an attempt driven by an extremist ideology which denies the right of existence of a person in his own home,” it said.

Pope Francis appealed for peace in Jerusalem after praying the Regina Coeli from the window of the Apostolic Palace on May 9.

“With particular concern, I am following the events that are happening in Jerusalem. I pray that it may be a place of encounter and not of violent clashes, a place of prayer and peace,” the pope said.

“I invite everyone to seek shared solutions so that the multi-religious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City is respected and brotherhood prevails. Violence begets violence. Enough with the clashes.

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