Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "The change of direction seems strange, but the content of the measure is important and we are very happy with it. Moreover it was the first decision that was wrong, certainly not this one", which restores rights and protection to the Christian community; affirms Mgr. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, commenting on the choice of the Israeli authorities to compensate Catholics for the arson attack last June to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee.
Last week the leaders of the Israeli administrative offices of the tax authority had established that the attack should not be included in the cases of "violence of a religious nature" and therefore (approximately $ 1.8 million) would not be reimbursed damages.
Yesterday, there was a sudden u-turn with the decision of the Attorney General to proceed with the compensation. In an official letter to the tax authorities the Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht confirmed that "the church must be compensated for the damages suffered as a result of arson attack, as required by law" that punishes criminal acts based on “national-ethnic affiliation". The assault the judge adds, there was a clear ideological motivation "which draws its origins from the Arab-Israeli conflict."
The Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem is clearly happy with the radical change, perhaps dictated "by the initiative of the Holy See and the local Church and associations active in the area, who had made a commitment to rebuilding the place of worship and repair the damage".
Msgr. Marcuzzo, adds that these moved could "have overshadowed Israel" that has already other open fronts of confrontation with Catholics, such as the Cremisan wall and the controversy surrounding schools, and which are a source of embarrassment for the government and the authorities.
In recent years, others places of worship have been attacked, including the church near the Upper Room, the Basilica of Nazareth, as well as other Catholic and Greek-Orthodox places of worship. Muslim mosques and places of worship have also been targeted in what Israeli extremists call a "price tag" on Christians and Muslims for having "taken away their land." Once such actions were limited to areas on the border with the West Bank and in Jerusalem, but now have spread to much of Israel.
Msgr. Marcuzzo does not downplay the difficulties and problems that threaten the future of the Christian community in the Holy Land. "Something's going on ... the acts of vandalism, the dispute about the schools, the wall - continues the prelate - all incidents that have occurred and that are an indication of a new attitude. We do not want to dramatize things, but we must look at the facts and be careful and vigilant”.
Here he points to the struggle of Catholics to access schools and education, an open front that brought more than 30 thousand students and their families to the streets against the funding cuts and in defense of freedom of education. There were demonstrations and protests, but always peaceful and democratic in nature, the archbishop said, and "we all marveled at the solidarity received from Jews, Muslims, secular groups. Last Sunday, the teachers union [Israelis] went on strike in solidarity with the two Catholic schools. " The Church has received increasing attention and visibility, bringing to light a community "that is felt in a peaceful way to assert their rights and who cares about the coexistence of peoples and cultures."
In this regard, the prelate concludes by anticipating a possible positive development of the dispute, which could "break the deadlock and allow the start of the school year even in Catholic institutions." It is too early to explain the details, but last night "a kind of understanding was reached - said Mgr. Marcuzzo - for the opening. This is a charter of intent, which should be signed on September 24 by the Catholic representatives and the Ministry of Education. This agreement sets the conditions for ending the strike and a go ahead for lessons to begin. This will be supported by the formation of a committee with representatives from Catholic, ministry officials, former retired judges and other legal experts, who will work to resolve the outstanding issues between the Church and the Israeli authorities. We are confident ... ". (DS)