Condemnation of the arson attack against the Church of Tabgha

This morning June 18, while listening to the Israel radio newscast about the fire in the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves in Tabgha, the Christians of the Holy Land, bishops and faithful, have been deeply shocked upon learning that it was an intentional act during the night, and that a monk and a German volunteer, were intoxicated by the fumes and were taken to the hospital.

It is another act of violence perpetrated by intolerant and scrupulous individuals that damages the image of the Holy Land, offends Christians in this country and the Church as a whole, and distresses  the idea of a State that defines itself as democratic, tolerant and secure.

We share the anguish of the Benedictine Fathers, guardians of the sanctuary, and we express our solidarity.

This is the third time that the Benedictine community of the Holy Land has been affected by similar criminal attacks.  On April 27, 2014 at the same site in Tabgha, young extremist Jews desecrated crosses and an altar.  In the Benedictine Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion close to the Upper Room, fire was started on May 26, 2014 a few minutes after the departure of Pope Francis. The Benedictines of Mount Zion are also incessantly subjected to acts of contempt and violence.

Such criminal acts seriously undermine the coexistence of religious communities in the country.   Jews, Christians and Muslims together must fight against such manifestations of violence and extremism. The education of young  people in religious schools must be emphasized in favor of tolerance and coexistence.

In recent months, other attacks were perpetrated against Christian sites or mosques and  investigations were not followed up.  Given the seriousness of these incidences, we demand immediate  investigation and the perpetrators of this acts of vandalism be brought to justice.

We thank the political and religious leaders who have condemned this act and expressed their solidarity.

Our society needs our testimony of respect for the dignity of every man and woman, respect for their faith, and safeguard the sanctity of all holy places and their free access to believers.



The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land