Fiorenza alleges that the Christian minority in Nazareth fears that the establishment of the mosque will further undermines its status in the town. WASHINGTON – As protests mount among Christian groups over the Nazareth mosque controversy, bishops in the United States have issued an unusually harsh condemnation of Israel’s policies in the affair. Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, the President of the American-based National Catholic Committee, declared that Israel’s government is yielding to extremist Muslim pressure in Nazareth.
Fiorenza’s criticism was included in a letter sent to Bill Clinton, prior to the President’s meeting in Oslo with Ehud Barak. Fiorenza alleges that the Christian minority in Nazareth fears that the establishment of the mosque will further undermines its status in the town.
Along with Protestant groups, the Catholic organization is angry about the authorization given by Israel for the construction of a mosque next to the Basilica of the Annunciation. In his letter to Clinton, Bishop Fiorenza wrote: “To the extent that the decision to establish a mosque was a response to extremist pressure, it will spur the exodus of Christians from Israel, and aggravate the threat posed to the Christian community of the Holy Land.”
A campaign is currently being waged by various Christian organizations in America in response to the dwindling size of Christian communities in Israel and the territories. To warn about this Christian fall-out, an inaugural meeting of an American organization called “The Christian Ecumenical Foundation for the Holy Land” was held last month.
Copyright 1999 Ha’aretz. All Rights Reserved.