I share this declaration of the Heads of the three main Church jurisdictions who are responsible for the management of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher/of the Resurrection in Jerusalem.
They call to act with care and a real sense of responsibility with regard to the pandemic of coronavirus that is more than a threat, but an invisible “on-air” potential killer.
It is an important period of the liturgical cycle that leads to the Feast of Easter and Passkha (Western rites of the Catholics and the Eastern-rite Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox). It is a real hapax in the course of human and spiritual experience. This Saturday of the Vespers of the Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Great Lent), the communities have served in their allotted places. Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem led the Vespers at 2PM this afternoon.
One thing: again and again, in the course of the decade, the traditional Churches of Jerusalem have to comply (obey) with the rulings and decisions issued by the State of Israel for their own benefit and care. As usual, they do not mention the State in their “statement”. Now for years, they depend on the local Kishleh Police Head Quarters located at Jaffa Gate because of their non-recognition of the State and quarreling with the Israeli government. None of them would either behave in this way with the King of Jordan and the Jordanian government.
The local Churches are local if they confirm their attitudes and morals with the existing legal bodies of the countries where they are. It is a very old “Christian” commandment” expressed by Saint Paul of Tarsus (Romans 13:2). They do not serve in “a country, a place, a city, a town, a village” because the Mystery of the Church is based on the incarnation of the Lord and it has been heralded throughout the centuries by the air of the Holy Spirit and human persons to each place everywhere in the world. Therefore, recognition of who the authorities are is a must, an obligation and a matter of authenticity of faith.
During the Second Intifada, the Israeli Authorities had required that the gas masks should be distributed to all the inhabitants of the country of Israel and/or Arab Palestinian Authority. The Churches did not comply with this ruling. They can not ask for protection – and the State of Israel does protect all the Churches as the Mosques and the Synagogues – and not accept to participate in the reality of the State and its legacy.
May I also take the liberty to say that those foreign press correspondents in Jerusalem or other locations in Israel) have the right to feel compassionate with their home countries, but they cannot give the impression that, since they are locked down in the Old City, they are mainly connected, spiritually, first and mostly with their offshore place of origin. They do witness for the local reality in these days of hardships, i.e. in Jerusalem and not in the Scilly Islands…
May we show that we are humans and humane beings and called to live by the grace of the Lord.
Statement regarding the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Jerusalem, 20 March 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our world is currently experiencing a time of crisis and emergency, whereas many countries and nations are combatting the spread of COVID-19. In many places around the globe, the infection is spreading rapidly and the victims are consistently increasing. The World Health Organization has declared the situation as a global pandemic.
In front of this dangerous situation, governments worldwide mobilized to resist and restrain the spread of this virus. In many places, severe measures were adopted which resulted in restrictions of movement of persons maintaining operative only crucial facilities.
This dangerous situation has not passed over the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem in which all Sons of Abraham Jews, Christians and Muslims are raising their prayers to God Almighty. We are called to live this time in faith and confidence in the Lord’s mercy and His care for all His creatures.
At the same time, we are called to adhere to the instructions of the competent civil authorities enacted to ensure the safety and well-being of the entire population.
Therefore, we the Heads of the Churches in charge of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem urge everyone to abide fully by the provisions for the public health, as they are published from time to time.
The communities living within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will continue the ordinary life of the Church in conformity with the instructions for the public health. We will be united spiritually in our aim to preserve the centuries’ long tradition of ongoing prayers in the Church even in these sad times when pilgrims cannot reach Jerusalem and local faithful are compelled to remain at their homes.
Accordingly, while maintaining the Church open we urge the worshipers to:
– Refrain from any gatherings of more than 10 people in the same place and at the same time in the Basilica.
– Keep a minimum distance of 2 meters between each person.
– Avoid any act of devotion that might include physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, touching icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica.
– To abide always by the instructions of the authorities.
The Holy Sepulchre is the ultimate place of hope. Hope that faith will defeat doubt, the light will defeat darkness and life will triumph over death. From this Holy Place and in this time of spiritual preparation for Easter and of the global crisis we join our prayers to those of faithful of all religions, asking for the end of this pandemic. We pray for all those afflicted by the virus around the world and express our sympathy and gratitude to those who assist and take care of the victims.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
Custos of the Holy Land
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem
ילם: Maier Yagod (photo)
מדפו של העיתונאי ניר חסון בפייסבוק. הוא כתב בעברית ככה –
הודעה מיוחדת מצד ראשי העדות הנוצריות המחזיקות את כנסיית הקבר, הפטריאך היווני תיאופילוס השלישי, הקוסטוס הקתולי, פרנצ’סקו פאטון, והפטריארך הארמני נורהאן מנוגיאן :
“הקבר הקדוש הוא המקום האולטימטיבי של התקווה, תקווה שאמונה תביס את הספקות, שהאור יביס את החשיכה ושהחיים ינצחו את המוות”. קוראים למאמינים לציית להוראות משרד הבריאות וכן להימנע מנגיעה או נישוק האבנים, האיקונות או הסמלים בכנסייה. הם נערכים לאירועי הפסחא נטולי מאמינים.
בתמונה שער יפו הנעול אתמול (היום הוא כבר נפתח),