Vatican official says Israel fostering intolerance of Christianity
The Israeli government's failure to respond adequately to Jewish extremist attacks against churches and monasteries is fostering a climate of intolerance towards Christianity in the country, a senior Vatican official in Jerusalem has warned.
Police inaction and an educational culture that encourages Jewish children to treat Christians with "contempt" has made life increasingly "intolerable" for many, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodian of the Holy Land, said.
Fr Pizzaballa's intervention, unusually outspoken for a senior Catholic churchman, came after pro-settler extremists attacked a Trappist monastery in the town of Latroun.
The incident is the latest in a series of acts of arson and vandalism this year targeting places of worship, including Jerusalem's 11th century Monastery of the Cross, built on the site where the tree used to make Christ's Cross is held to have been planted.
Slogans reading "Death to Christians" and other offensive graffiti were daubed on its walls.
Fr Pizzaballa, the head of the Franciscan Order in the Holy Land, and fellow senior clergymen of other denominations have protested the failure of the police to identify the culprits behind any of the incidents.
But the most important issue they say Israel has failed to address is the practice of some ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools that teach children it is a doctrinal obligation to abuse anyone in Holy Orders they encounter in public.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, including children as young as eight, spit at members of the clergy on a daily basis, Fr Pizzaballa said.
Such a culture of intolerance has resulted in a "scapegoating" of Christians, leading to them becoming the convenient target of extremists fighting political battles that have nothing to do with the community.
Posted by: lotp