World Council of Churches expresses concern about Palestinian Christians

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001

GENEVA (AP) -- A fellowship of churches in more than 100 countries is exploring ways to protect Palestinian Christians and ease Mideast violence.

Two or three Palestinian Christian families leave the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem each week because of the fighting there, the World Council of Churches estimates.

Palestinian Christians, always a minority, now comprise barely 2 percent of the roughly 3 million Palestinians in the territories, according to Palestinian experts.

A delegation from the World Council of Churches visited Israel and the Palestinian territories and issued their report on Monday.

The fear that the holy sites of Christianity may become museums with no local congregation ''is a very real one,'' the delegates said.

The study's authors have asked the church organization to consider creating an ecumenical team to protect victims of the violence and monitor and report on the situation in the territories.

Among the other suggestions is helping local churches and supporting ''alternative and moderate'' voices on both sides of the conflict.

The recommendations will be reviewed by leaders of churches in Jerusalem, religious and human rights delegates to the United Nations, and officials with the World Council of Churches, which represents 342 churches from several Christian traditions.

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the spiritual leader of 73 million Anglicans worldwide, visited Jerusalem last month and urged Christians there to remain in the Holy Land.


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