Israel: Monks pray for their persecutors after latest graffiti attack


Graffiti from 2013 attack

Graffiti from 2013 attack

The Monks of the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem have spoken out about the latest attack on the monastery.

Father Nikodemus Schnabel, subprior of the German-speaking Benedictine community, told Aid to the Church in Need: "We are praying for those who hate us."

He added: "If we are being attacked because we are Christians, then we want to react as Christians."

The attack occurred on Saturday night, (16th January) when unknown persons defaced the walls and doors of the monastery on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Hebrew graffiti included: "Christians go to hell", "Death to heathen Christians, the heretical enemies of Israel" and "Revenge for Israelis."

Nearby Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Orthodox churches were also targeted.

Fr Schnabel said he was not able to explain why the Abbey of the Dormition had been attacked again, but stressed the Jewish community had reacted with compassion. He said: "We are thankful for all of our friends in Israel who stand by us in solidarity. We as monks of the Abbey of the Dormition will not cease praying for reconciliation, justice and peace - as well as for the perpetrators of last night, that the hatred may disappear from their hearts."

Fr Schnabel called on the Israeli authorities to act, saying: "We ask that the security forces take this criminal act seriously and finally take steps to improve the security situation on Mount Zion, something which has been promised to us since the summer of 2013."

The abbey has experienced a spate of attacks, being graffitied in 2012 and 2013. On the latter occasion cars belonging to the monastic community were also damaged.

Shortly after Pope Francis' visit in May 2014, an attempt was made to set fire to the abbey church.

The attacks are believed to be the work of Jewish extremists who support the "Price Tag" movement - militant Jewish settlers in the West Bank who object to steps to move settlements built without Israeli government permission.

This was the case with the arson attack on Tabgha Priory on the Sea of Galilee, in June 2015. Tabgha sustained damages totalling more than 1.6 million euros. Two people suffered from smoke inhalation. The Jewish community helped raise money towards the restoration of the historic Christian site.

In December the cemetery of the Salesian monastery of Beit Gemal in Israel was desecrated. Unknown persons overturned and damaged crosses.

Source: ACN

Read more about the work of Aid to the Church in need here: www.acnuk.org/

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