CMEP Bulletin: Settlement “freeze” and Holy Fire ceremony

CMEP Bulletin: Settlement “freeze” and Holy Fire ceremony

weekly update from Churches for Middle East Peace

Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter in Jerusalem

On Saturday May 4, Christians gathered near the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to observe the day Christ’s body lay resting within the tomb.  During the ceremony, a blue fire ignites a candle held by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch who shares the flame with worshipers. Over 10,000 Christians from around the world attended the Holy Fire event that dates back to the ninth century CE.

According to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s head of the Presidential Committee on Church Affairs Hana Amireh, Israeli soldiers and police were reported to have cause “countless difficulties” for many faithful, diplomats, and visitors participating in the Holy procession. Amireh noted verbal attacks, along with ‘delays at dozens of checkpoints’ and claimed, “Palestinians were beaten when trying to reach the Church.” In an interview with AFP, he denoted that“even prayer has become an act of resistance.”

Lack of access to Jerusalem is a frequent complaint by Palestinians during major Christian and Muslim holidays due to Israel’s permit requirements. Attempting to ameliorate the situation, the U.S. State Department said “Religious freedom, including freedom of worship, is a core human right,” and urged, “both Palestinians and Israelis to exercise restraint and refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric.”

Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Land use the Gregorian calendar that put Easter on March 31 this year. But for this first time, Catholics in the region decided to mark Easter on May 4 under the Orthodox calendar in an act of ecumenical unity.

Click here to read this week’s complete CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:

  • Settlement freeze to warm up negotiations?
  • B’Tselem: Over half of Palestinian fatalities civilian in Gaza operation
  • Take action: Encourage Sec. Kerry to support the Salesian Sisters and peace
  • Sign up for the CMEP Advocacy Conference
  • Further reading