Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 5, 2010
CCCB requests looser Holy Land security
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canada's bishops have written Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to urge Israel to relax security measures making it difficult for the Orthodox and Catholic Christians to participate fully in Holy Week worship.
"While fully respecting and endorsing the right and need of Israeli citizens to be able to live in security, our conference is also aware that there are many people in the Middle East growing increasingly frustrated, impatient and even hostile because of various security measures imposed by the State of Israel," wrote Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Bishop Pierre Morissette in a March 26 letter.
"Thus ironically, today's efforts to improve security may have the unintended but inevitable effect of spawning future insecurity."
The Saint-Jérôme bishop told Prime Minister Stephen Harper that Christians in Jerusalem are finding it difficult to observe "the blessing of the fire at the Easter Vigil, from joining in morning prayer on Holy Saturday, and from processing to the Holy Sepulchre."
A basic agreement to respect people's right to take part in Holy Week celebrations has been in place since 1852, Morissette said.
But Christians have complained over the last five years that Israeli police have imposed unwarranted restrictions, he said. They are now calling on the international community to support them in exercising their religious rights.
He quoted an attached press release that spoke of roadblocks, curfews, forced closures and machine gun-toting police officers and soldiers who express rude or hostile attitudes.
Morissette asked the government to "do all it can to promote a just and lasting settlement" that meets the needs and rights of all parties.
"As Canadian Christians join their sisters and brothers around the world in preparing for Holy Week, we join you in praying and working for the peace which is promised in the paschal celebrations."
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