Christian Leaders in Israel Claim ‘Radical Groups’ Are Trying to Drive Them Out
In Israel, Christian leaders say that “radical groups” are trying to push them out of the country.
“Despite two thousand years of faithful service, our presence is precarious, and our future is at risk,” writes Fr. Francesco Patton, the Catholic Church’s Custos of the Holy Land, in an opinion piece for The Telegraph.
According to Patton, the number of Christians in Israel decreased from 20% to 2%, with Christians facing threats from “radical local groups with extremist ideologies.”
Additionally, Patton writes that the groups have desecrated holy sites and committed crimes against local Christians.
“The frequency of these hate crimes leaves families and communities who have lived here for generations feeling unwelcome in their own homes,” Patton writes.
While Patton doesn’t name any specific group or organization, he states that the individuals are not affiliated with the Israeli government.
Patton’s opinion piece comes after the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches of Jerusalem penned a statement on the “current threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land.”
“Throughout the Holy Land, Christians have become the target of frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups,” the statement begins.
“Since 2012 there have been countless incidents of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, attacks on Christian churches, with holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated, and ongoing intimidation of local Christians who simply seek to worship freely and go about their daily lives.”
The Israeli government denied the allegations, saying they “distort the reality of the Christian community in Israel.”
“Religious leaders have a critical role to play in education for tolerance and coexistence, and Church leaders should be expected to understand their responsibility and the consequences of what they have published, which could lead to violence and bring harm to innocent people,” the Israeli government said.