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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Bethlehem: further violence - Cardinal begins talks
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¬†Israeli soldiers shot three armed Palestinians as they came out of the besieged Church of the Nativity yesterday. They said one was killed while the other two staggered back into the shrine. The fire reported yesterday damaged several rooms in the compound, but not the church. The Franciscan press office in Rome said several rooms and offices in the Franciscan monastery in the compound sustained fire damage. Palestinians in the compound said several rooms in the Greek Orthodox section were also damaged. Three people suffered mild burns as they battled to put out the blaze with buckets of water, Palestinians in the church said by telephone. Yesterday afternoon, ten peace campaigners ran across Manger Square, entered the church and were able to give food to people trapped inside. Soldiers arrested 13 activists who served as a decoy for those who managed to slip inside. "We succeeded in providing food to people who needed it," said Robert O'Neill, one of several Americans who made it into the church. In Jerusalem, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the papal envoy, met with Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Israeli authorities refused his request to visit the Church of the Nativity. The Cardinal said he was "a small stone in the large construction site of peace, opened on bloodstained soil... I come in the name of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II ≠ who tenaciously never ceases to respect and trust in the two populations of Israel and Palestine, both lacerated but united by a profound aspiration to live in liberty, justice and security, which both have a right to". "I am here to ask that everything possible be done for a rapid resolution to the tragic situation of Bethlehem and for the restitution of the Nativity Basilica to God and worshippers. There is always hope when each man follows the path of love and not violence".
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