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Author Topic: Christians feud over Church of Holy Sepulcher  (Read 4050 times) Average Rating: 0
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stashko
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« on: October 26, 2008, 09:27:06 PM »


Something of interest.. Lord Have Mercy,,,



http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081025/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_holy_sepulcher;_ylt=AiJbT_mnppfxpYJOIr2FNDlvaA8F

Christians feud over Church of Holy Sepulcher
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Digg Facebook Newsvine del.icio.us Reddit StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Bookmarks Print By MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press Writer Matti Friedman, Associated Press Writer – Sat Oct 25, 5:28 pm ET AP – Tourist visit the Deir El Sultan monastery in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed by many to be … JERUSALEM – Two rival monks are posted at all times in a rooftop courtyard at the site of Jesus' crucifixion: a bearded Copt in a black robe and an Ethiopian sunning himself on a wooden chair, studiously ignoring each other as they fight over the same sliver of sacred space.

For decades, Coptic and Ethiopian Christians have been fighting over the Deir el-Sultan monastery, which sits atop a chapel at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The monastery is little more than a cluster of dilapidated rooms and a passageway divided into two incense-filled chapels, an architectural afterthought alongside the Holy Sepulcher's better-known features.

And yet Deir el-Sultan has become the subject of a feud that has gone far beyond the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. The Ethiopians control the site, but the Egypt-based Copts say they own it and see the Ethiopians as illegal squatters.

The quarrel has erupted into brawls — in 2002, when the Coptic monk moved his chair into the shade and too close to the Ethiopians, a dozen people were hurt in the ensuing melee. And today, the Ethiopians claim the fight could result in the monastery's collapse and even in damage to other parts of the church, one of the holiest sites in Christendom.

Since the 1970s, the Israeli government has refused to allow renovations or significant repairs at the disputed monastery until the Ethiopians and the Copts come to terms. That hasn't happened, and the Ethiopian Church says the years of neglect have put the structure in danger. The Copts suggest the Ethiopians are merely trying to further cement their hold.

The Ethiopian Church commissioned a report from an Israeli engineer backing up its claim, and in early October the Ethiopian patriarch, Archbishop Matthias, asked the Israeli government to carry out urgent repairs. The archbishop attached the engineer's assessment that the humble monastery structure could collapse — and possibly damage the chapel below — if steps are not taken to repair it.

The report, compiled by Yigal Berman of the Milav engineering firm, cited "safety hazards" that "endanger the lives of the monks and the visitors," according to a report in the daily Haaretz newspaper. Yifredew Getnet, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Embassy to Israel, confirmed the report. A committee made up of embassy representatives, churchmen and lay leaders has been appointed to oversee the monastery, he said.

Outside the monastery, Coptic monk Antonious El-Orshlemy said his church owns Deir el-Sultan, and that the Ethiopian claim that the monastery is about to collapse is false.

"The building is very fine, and not dangerous to someone," he said.

The most recent round of the feud began in 1970, when Ethiopian monks changed the locks while the Copts were at services on the eve of Easter and moved in.

The Ethiopian Church has six monasteries and 70 monks in the Holy Land, according to the office of the patriarch. A handful are stationed at Deir el-Sultan. The main parts of the Holy Sepulcher are divided between the Catholics, Armenians, and Greek Orthodox.

Three years before the Easter takeover, Israel captured the Old City from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast War and found itself in charge of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Copts appealed to an Israeli court, which ruled that the Ethiopians should not have altered the fragile status quo at the church but said it was the government's job to decide what to do. The government decided not to take action, according to Daniel Rossing, director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and an expert on the city's fractious religious mosaic.

International politics likely played a role in the decision: At the time, Israel had warm ties with Ethiopia and was at war with Egypt. Later that was reversed: Communists came to power in Ethiopia and cut ties with Israel, and Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement. But Israel still did not act, possibly because of concerns that angering Ethiopia could hamper the emigration of the country's Jewish community.

Feuds like the one over Deir el-Sultan "don't have a solution, period," Rossing said. "The trick, then, is to do the very best job to make things as livable as possible, within the limitations of never being able to solve these issues."

Israel's interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, now plans to mediate the dispute, and the government will help renovate the site as soon as the sides can agree on a course of action, said spokesman Ilan Marciano. But with each side entirely rejecting the other's claim to the monastery, it is unclear if an agreement is possible.

The feud is only one of a bewildering array of rivalries among churchmen in the Holy Sepulcher, where each group remains on guard against any encroachment onto their turf. Fights have flared over issues such as who is allowed to sweep which steps, and Israeli police occasionally intervene.

The Israeli government has long wanted to build a fire exit in the church, which regularly fills with thousands of pilgrims and has only one main door, but the plan is on hold because the sects cannot agree where the exit will be built. In another example, a ladder placed on a ledge over the entrance sometime in the 19th century has remained there ever since because of a dispute over who has the authority to take it down.

____

AP writer Shawna Ohm contributed to this report.
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2008, 10:47:02 PM »

This is so shameful....I just finished reading this on Yahoo and was about to post the article here and it shows that Stashko beat me to it.....

This is what really got to me:

Quote
The feud is only one of a bewildering array of rivalries among churchmen in the Holy Sepulcher, where each group remains on guard against any encroachment onto their turf. Fights have flared over issues such as who is allowed to sweep which steps,

This breaks my heart...considering I have so much love, admiration and respect for both churches, since my admiration and conseuqent journey into Orthodoxy was (in parts) sparked by the great spirituality found in the Coptic and Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Churches. I am sorry but I am deeply saddened by this...Instead of trying to address the problems of their own people (The Coptics with their status as a persecuted minority within their own country and the quest of trying to find a meaning of being Coptic in contemporary Egypt and the Ethiopian Orthodox who have to pastorally come together and fight the myriad of social and economic ills in their own country as well as the increasing amount of defection of Orthodox laypeople to Pentecostalism) they have made themselves the time to fight over who can sweep which steps......Talk about losing sight of the bigger picture...

Lord help us and forgive us for our manifold sins...

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« Last Edit: October 26, 2008, 10:47:34 PM by OrthodoxPilgrim » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2008, 12:11:09 AM »

All of this "status quo" stuff is canonically and Biblically ridiculous.  Nothing is stopping Israel from taking a bulldozer and putting all this "status quo" stuff where it belongs.  I'm personally disgusted by the behaviors exhibited by all parties in Jerusalem and no wonder many people are abandoning Orthodoxy for Pentecostalism and other religions where there are no "status quo" issues.

Father, forgive them for maintaining the "status quo" for they know not what they are doing.
Amen!
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 10:40:08 AM »

In the light of other, much more serious and tragic world affairs, this seems like very childish behaviour, not to mention a terrible testimony to non-Orthodox people.

It would be wonderful if each side would have at least one saintly, dedicated Christian soul who was determined to break the vicious cycle by showing Christ-like love and compassion towards the other party.

Alternatively, as often happened in other denominations with whom I used to fellowship, in the event of "church problems", a third, objective party (usually a bishop) would be called in to spend much time listening to all sided in an attempt to work through all the grievances. All parties would have to respect and be obedient to the final decision.  Would it not be possible to have such a solution?
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 11:38:24 AM »

^ The problem is that the Christian entities in the "status quo" aren't in Communion with each other (I could be wrong but I believe the Armenians are in Communion with the Copts and the Ethiopians but not formally with the Greek Orthodox and Catholics) and there is no common Hierarch in which the entities are in Communion with to facillitate a binding settlement.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 11:40:27 AM by SolEX01 » Logged
HaileAmanuel
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2008, 01:35:13 AM »

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This subject is a very, very touchy subject and that's why (unfortunately) there has been bloodshed over the 'rights' and custodianship of the Holy Sepulcher and other holy sites in Palestine/Israel.

Number one, the Israeli police and security forces, who are always in the area of the Holy Sepulcher and in the Holy Sepulcher itself (including the Roof), never intervened or mediated the conflict(s) to create peace; instead, they watched the Coptic and Ethiopian monks/nuns fight furiously.

The issue of the Status Quo can be easily resolved (between the Coptic and Ethiopian Church), especially now, because the Churches have made an agreement and a protocol to reunite that relationship that they once shared as father and son.

I am sure that the monastery, especially the Ethiopian section (on the roof) is deteriorating hour-by-hour, because the last time its been tended to was during the 1920's (if that late).  The EOTC of Jerusalem had to raise a large sum of money in order to construct a new building in Bethany, because of the elderly monks in Deir Sultan that are deathly ill, due to the dust, unsanitary conditions (like the ancient sewage system) and lead-painted walls, that are not able to be repaired (due to the status quo).

Why don't the critics speak about the shared Ethiopian and Coptic monastery in Bethlehem, and show the world the harmony that is kept there? 

Why don't they speak about the elderly Coptic monk that lives on the roof of the Holy Sepulcher in the Ethiopian quarters?  He is provided Ethiopian food from the Ethiopian monks on a daily basis and eats cheerfully...the devil tries his best to sow enmity between these African Orthodox [Tewahido] Churches, but "where sin has laid, the grace of God has abounded more so..."

All of these monks, Coptic and Ethiopian are peaceful and God fearing.  Whoever questions that must take into consideration that the Holy Land (as holy as it is) is a place of turmoil, due to political violence.  These monks/nuns have put themselves at risk to procure and to preserve their faith and traditions.

We should pray for peace in all of our congregations and ask God to make us peacemakers according to His holy will.

Thank you and peace to everyone,

HaileAmanuel
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2008, 01:40:34 AM »

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This subject is a very, very touchy subject.... We should pray for peace in all of our congregations and ask God to make us peacemakers according to His holy will.


Amen. Amen. Amen.
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« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2008, 08:41:42 PM »

Mr. Y took a post by Hiywot and merged it with another thread in the Christian New section about the same topic:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18254.msg267973.html#msg267973

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« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2008, 08:48:01 PM »

^ Yes I did. Thank you.
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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2008, 09:04:37 PM »

Dear HaileAmanuel,

Where are the peacemakers in Jerusalem?  If there are no peacemakers, then they deserve the bulldozer SolEx01 was talking about.

Let me let you know that HH the Pope has decreed an excommunication on any Copt who visits Israel for the central reason of this cursed monastery.
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2008, 01:40:16 PM »

My Dear Brother MinaSoliman,

During the battles of the Canaanites, Jebusites, Hitites, Amorites and others thousands of years ago [according to my little knowledge], there was a non-Shemitic priest by the name of Melketsidek who constantly offered/burnt incense at the tomb [Dudalem/Golgotha] of Adam & Eve, while asking the Most High God to have mercy on the world.  He did this because of his love and trust for God, and for fellow human beings.  He received the titles of 'king of righteousness' and 'king of peace'.  His prayers and intercession brought peace to the land.

Yet, most of us understand that this is the earthly Jerusalem, not the New Jerusalem that some of us desire to inherit.  Der Sultan has a beginning, therefore it also has an end.  The monastery is cursed by who?  God the Most High?

I am well aware that His Holiness Baba Shenouda III has made this decree [excommunication of any Copt who visits Israel], but with all do respect to H.H. Pope Shenouda III and all of my Coptic family, I'm not referring to political decrees or the 'status quo'.

For centuries, many Christians and God fearing souls have been flocking to the Holy Land to commemorate the lives of their Lord Jesus, our Lady Mary and His saints.  Not only there, but wherever holiness was established in the world. 

I know for sure that Ethiopians and Others, have sacrificed there lives for the sake of future generations that desire to visit the Holy Land.  Unfortunately, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies have fought one another in the process...

In the Lord's Prayer, the Litanies of our Liturgies and in many other prayers [of course], we pray for many things, including peace; not only in our land(s), but for the world. 

Thank you for allowing me to post and God be with you always, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--one God, Amen.

haileAmanuel
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2008, 01:56:51 PM »

I wonder what Abuna (now Melkite Archbishop) Elias Chacour, would have to say about all this? I just finished reading his very inspirational book, "We Belong to the Land: the Story of a Palestinian Israeli who lives for Peace and Reconcilation". He managed to unite the Muslim, Orthodox and Melkite factions within the village of his first appointment as parish priest. An amazing story.
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2008, 08:06:49 PM »

My Dear Brother MinaSoliman,

During the battles of the Canaanites, Jebusites, Hitites, Amorites and others thousands of years ago [according to my little knowledge], there was a non-Shemitic priest by the name of Melketsidek who constantly offered/burnt incense at the tomb [Dudalem/Golgotha] of Adam & Eve, while asking the Most High God to have mercy on the world.  He did this because of his love and trust for God, and for fellow human beings.  He received the titles of 'king of righteousness' and 'king of peace'.  His prayers and intercession brought peace to the land.

The same bishops and priests that inherited the priesthood of Melchizedek are the causes of such strife.  All that is left is us, so let us pray.


Quote
Yet, most of us understand that this is the earthly Jerusalem, not the New Jerusalem that some of us desire to inherit.  Der Sultan has a beginning, therefore it also has an end.  The monastery is cursed by who?  God the Most High?

When so-called "holy" men commit unholy strife because of the monastery, it is no longer a holy place, but a cursed place.  If only they understand the monastery has an end.  And if only HH Pope Shenouda can understand that too.  Unfortunately, because our church heirarchs cares more about land than about the people they affect, the true Body of Christ, they believe in excommunicating those of the Body just to protect a building (acutally they're not protecting the building, just their right to keep it) that has an end.  This to me truly curses the ground of the monastery.

Quote
For centuries, many Christians and God fearing souls have been flocking to the Holy Land to commemorate the lives of their Lord Jesus, our Lady Mary and His saints.  Not only there, but wherever holiness was established in the world. 

I know for sure that Ethiopians and Others, have sacrificed there lives for the sake of future generations that desire to visit the Holy Land.  Unfortunately, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies have fought one another in the process...

God bless the Ethiopians for the sober-mindedness.  Despite how badly the government of Israel treats them, I'm glad your bishops don't condemn anyone for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Quote
In the Lord's Prayer, the Litanies of our Liturgies and in many other prayers [of course], we pray for many things, including peace; not only in our land(s), but for the world. 

Thank you for allowing me to post and God be with you always, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--one God, Amen.

haileAmanuel

Amen!
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2008, 01:11:17 AM »

My dearest brother MinaSoliman,

Peace to you always!  I completely understand what you're saying because of the strife.  I've visited the Holy Land on several occasions and there is an overwhelming feeling that I cannot describe about that place.  I think that that is a major factor in my outlook on the Holy Places [in Palestine/Israel]...

I due believe that there are so many ill-intentions from some of those dressed in-and-out of the monastic garb: those who live in the Holy Land and those that mingle in the affairs of the Holy Places.    

I have also witnessed many interesting things, for example: It is a tradition for many of the Orthodox and Catholic congregants [Ethiopian and some others] to spray perfume on Icons and the stations, or Holy Places [i.e. Tomb of our Lord Jesus].  On numerous occasions, I have seen monks [I won't disclose the denomination of these monk] rush the perfume-sprayer and ask, "Where did you buy that bottle (meaning the vessel that contains the perfume)?  Did you buy it from here (meaning: 'from that denomination's gift shop)? If not, you can't do that here!"

Things like this also turnoff many pilgrims...

Anyway, take care my brother and pray for us.

Peace always in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Whose Holy Blood poured upon the earth for the salvation of us all (Amen).

haileAmanuel
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2008, 02:16:01 AM »

Dearest to Christ HaileAmanuel,

Thank you for your understanding.  Remember me in your prayers as well.

God bless.
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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2008, 06:51:03 AM »

Let me let you know that HH the Pope has decreed an excommunication on any Copt who visits Israel for the central reason of this cursed monastery.

I was under the impression that it was a way of showing opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Would not restricting the number of pilgrims make it more difficult for the Copts to hold on to what they have there?
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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2008, 01:48:46 PM »

This seems to be always happening. It is very sad though.
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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2008, 01:35:38 PM »

A discussion on whether laymen should criticize bishops and patriarchs was split off and put here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18509.msg269497.html#msg269497
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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2008, 07:06:31 PM »

+Irini nem ehmot

His Holiness Pope Shenouda has permitted people in the Diaspora to go to the Holy Land. If anyone has a video recording of His Holiness' visit to Canada in late May/early June of last year, he answered the question publically. In addition to this, I believe a trip from the States went there with His Holiness' blessings. His Holiness asked that people not publish their trips in the Keraza etc..

Pray for me.
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2008, 07:47:48 PM »

Thanks for your input Fortunatus. I have plenty more anecdotal evidence that would put His Holiness' position on this matter into context, but I have my reasons for keeping them to myself for now.

His Holiness is a living Saint. There are things about this Father that I cannot disclose till after his departure. Those so quick to question and undermine him know not what they do. They have spiritual issues that they need to sort out with their Abouna... and quickly.
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