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Whoever is ashamed of me and my word, of him the son of man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:38 

08/01/2023 Israel (International Christian Concern) – The Abbot of Jerusalem’s Benedictine Dormition Abbey, Father Nichodemus Schnabel, was told by an employee of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation that his cross was “really large and inappropriate for that place.”  

She added that the sight “was a Jewish place.” The priest replied, “[the cross is] part of my dress code […] I’m a Roman Catholic Abbot. You want me not to dress as my faith tells me how to dress?” He later added that “Jerusalem is big enough for everyone.”  

The foundation in question later apologized to Father Nikodemus. However, the Jerusalem Post reported that this is not an isolated incident but one of many anti-Christian acts and attacks reported across the city in recent months. The Post cited Jewish residents spitting on Christian tourists, pilgrims, and clergymen. The Roman Catholic hierarch of Jerusalem, Pierrebattista Pizzaballa, said that there have been several recent attacks on priests in Jerusalem and that a number of Christian sites have been vandalized. The Latin Patriarch stated three months ago that Christian intolerance has increased under Netanyahu’s government, including purported plans to turn the Mount of Olives into a National Park, causing alarm among church leaders.  

Indeed, 2023 is looking to be the worst year for Christians in a decade, according to Yusef Daher from the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center, which coordinates and represents the interests of all denominations. The center has claimed that physical assaults and harassment of clergy often go unreported, and it has documented at least seven serious cases of vandalism of church properties from January through mid-March this year – an increase from the six anti-Christian cases recorded in 2022.

One such instance in March involved two Israelis who burst into the basilica beside the Garden of Gethsemane – where the Virgin Mary is said to have been buried – where they attacked a priest with a metal rod before being arrested. The month prior, a Jewish-American tourist vandalized a statue of Jesus at the Church of the Flagellation (pictured). This follows the vandalism of around 30 Anglican graves on Mount Zion in January, a desecration that has made Christians in Israel concerned that their religion will become nothing more than a “museum piece.”

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