The past two years have been difficult for Catholic schools in Israel, particularly from the financial point of view: the Education Ministry has repeatedly reduced both subsidies to schools and grants to families. This caused considerable deficit for several schools last year. The Israeli authorities say Catholic schools there should become ‘state’ schools - this would allow them to survive but at the high price of loss of specificity and identity.
The Catholic community in the Holy Land considers the government position discriminatory and unacceptable.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem says the Office for Catholic Schools has made many attempts at various levels to organize meetings and find a solution.
The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land sent several letters to the Israeli Ministry of Education requesting a meeting, but received no reply in the past two years. This led to the announcement of a strike for Monday 1 September, the first day of school after the summer holidays. The action was decided unanimously by the local College of Headmasters, known as ‘G 14’ and chaired by Fr Abdelmassih Fahim, in the presence of Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo. The strike aimed to draw attention to the fact that the Israeli government has not responded to any letters from the Church.
The announcement of the strike brought an immediate reaction from the Ministry of Education which gave a date for a meeting to discuss the difficulties and find solutions. Following this positive attitude, the G14 said it was ready to listen and that the strike was cancelled.
Fides reports that the situation for Catholic schools in Israel is highly precarious and many are in danger of closing.
(In 2009, there were 44 Catholic schools in Israel, attended by about 24,000 students.)