“There is nothing serious and reliable in the rumors of a possible closure of Holy Sites as an initiative to be taken in the support of the strike regarding Christian Schools”. This is what Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said to Agenzia Fides. The authoritative and peremptory denial puts an end to rumors about a possible “closure” of Christian Holy Sites that have been taken into consideration by the Churches of the Holy Land as a last resort to be deployed in the ongoing war between Christian schools and the Israeli government. “This hypothesis has not been examined at all, at any level. In fact, we encourage pilgrims to come from all over the world to visit Holy Sites. We say: come to Holy Land, there is no reason to hesitate and be afraid”, says to Fides Bishop Marcuzzo, who also presides the negotiating Committee of Christian Schools, in charge of negotiations with the Israeli government.
In recent days, as reported by some agencies, a spokesman of the Christian Schools during a news conference had dangled the possibility of the closure of Holy Sites – which every year attract from around the world millions of pilgrims – as a means of retaliation to hit the Israeli economy and at the same time to sensitize the international community regarding the discriminatory attitude the Israeli government has towards Christian schools.
This hypothesis immediately appears to contradict the numerous appeals – also recently launched by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land – which invited the pilgrims to return to the land of Jesus, after the alarming decline of pilgrimages in recent months, and attributed by operators both to the economic crisis and to the instability of Countries bordering Israel and Palestine.
The protest carried out by the Christian schools of the Holy Land will then continue in other forms – which since the beginning of the school year have been on strike and have not reopened the classrooms for the resumption of normal school activities. The budgetary constraints imposed by the Jewish State are at the root of the protest. In a few years, government grants to Christian schools have declined by more than 45%, forcing the institutions to increase the school fees paid by families, often with low incomes, below the national average. The 47 Christian schools in Israel are attended by 33 thousand students (of whom only half are baptized) and employ 3 thousand teachers. The state subsidies, which until a few years ago covered 65% of the fees, have been dramatically reduced and now do not even cover 30% of the expenses.
Source: Fides News