Custos of the Holy Land: at Gethsemane 'reprehensible act of vandalism, should not to be emphasized'
On 4 December a man, later arrested, entered the church at the foot of the Mount of Olives and set fire to some pews, part of the so-called "price tag" vendetta. Two days later the Christian leaders of the Holy Land, including the Latin patriarch and the Custos concelebrated a mass of reparation. Fr. Patton: prayer "for reconciliation", standing strong against "the advance of destructive forces.”
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A "reprehensible act" that leaves people "shocked and saddened" because it affects "a holy place, a place of prayer, a place of high symbolic value for all Christians," notes the Custos of the Holy Land.
Fr. Francesco Patton was speaking at the Mass of reparation celebrated on 6 December last in the Basilica in Gethsemane, Jerusalem. The liturgy was in reparation for the attack two days earlier, when a man (later arrested) entered the church at the foot of the Mount of Olives and damaged the furnishings by setting fire to some pews after dousing them with flammable liquid. At the same time, the religious stresses that the gesture "should not be emphasized" because those who do it are looking precisely for "resonance, of unjustly earned fame, doing evil rather than good".
Local sources report that on the afternoon of day 4, coinciding with the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre of the new Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, the Basilica at Gethsemane was the scene of an act of vandalism attributable to Jewish settlers or Jewish extremists against Christian (and Muslim) buildings.
The Israeli police, intervened at the request of the Custos that manages the basilica, arrested a man: he was allegedly a Jew residing in Gilo, in an area of the occupied territories between the Holy City and Bethlehem. The attack was also condemned by the Jordanian authorities, who remind the Israeli counterpart as an "occupying power" to "respect their obligations" in terms of "protection of places of worship".
The ceremony was presided over by the Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, together with the custodian of the Holy Land, the bishop emeritus Msgr. Giacino Boulos Marcuzzo and by Msgr. Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.
In his homily, Fr. Patton stressed that it will be the task of the police and civil authorities to see "justice" is done in the matter "to prevent such acts from happening again", but "we cannot react according to the spirit of the world but according to the spirit of the Gospel”.
“Our prayer of reparation - he adds - to-day and in this place therefore has the purpose of bringing us to reconciliation, because it draws on the gift of self, made by Jesus, with infinite love on Calvary. " By celebrating this Mass of reparation, we want to curb the advance of the forces of destruction that have already caused so much evil and violence to the peoples, the faithful, the people who live in this Holy Land and in the whole world.".
The Gethsemane attack is just the latest in a long series of intimidating assaults, some of which were signed "Price tag" [the price to pay, ed] and attributable to Jewish settlers or extremists. n the recent past Jewish extremists and settlers have targeted several religious sites. 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 only to areas on the border with the West Bank and in Jerusalem, but now have spread too much of Israel.