The heads of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land published a statement today, February 20, 2014, asking the municipality of Tel Aviv to stop its campaign against the places of prayer of the migrant communities in south Tel Aviv.

Keep the oases of prayer open in Tel Aviv!

We, the heads of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, have heard the cry of the Christian faithful, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, who are migrant workers and asylum seekers in the city of Tel Aviv. They too are our brothers and sisters.

We have learnt that in recent weeks the municipality of the city of Tel Aviv has been closing down many places of worship in the neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv. In some cases, their furniture has been confiscated.

The migrants have been collecting out of the little that they have so they might establish Christian communities and places of prayer in apartments, shops, basements and shelters. They transform these places into oases of prayer and solidarity. These are places where they can gather together and be consoled by the Almighty and by one another as they confront their poverty and deprivation, their exile and their loneliness.

We recognize the right of the civil authorities to enforce law and order but we turn to the civil authorities and beg kindness and mercy for our brothers and sisters. Their churches and prayer halls are also holy places that must be facilitated and protected. We ask that this campaign against the churches in south Tel Aviv be transformed into a campaign to help the churches meet their civil obligations and continue serving the faithful.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another;
do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor;
and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another
(Zachariah 7:9-10).

+ Fouad TWAL
Patriarch of Jerusalem for Latins
President Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop emeritus of Akka

+ Michel SABBAH
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem emeritus

+ Yaser Al-AYYASH
Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Petra and Philadelphia (Amman)

Apostolic Administrator ‘sede plena’ of Archeparchy of Petra and Philadelphia

+ Joseph SOUEIF
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

+ Moussa AL-HAGE
Maronite Archbishop of Haifa & Holy Land
Maronite Exarch of Jerusalem
Apostolic Administrator of Greek Melkite Catholic Archeparchy of Akka

+ Boutros MOUALLEM
Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Akka emeritus

+ Gregoire Pierre MELKI
Syrian Catholic Exarch of Jerusalem

+ Joseph Jules ZEREY
Greek Melkite Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem

+ Maroun LAHHAM
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan

+ Giacinto-Boulos MARCUZZO
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel

+ William SHOMALI
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem & Palestine

+ Kamal-Hanna BATHISH
Latin Patriarchal Vicar general emeritus

+ Selim SAYEGH
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan emeritus

Msgr. Joseph KELEKIAN
Armenian Catholic Exarch of Jerusalem

Fr. Pierbattista PIZZABALLA, OFM
Custos of the Holy Land

Fr. David NEUHAUS, S.J.
Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Vicariate
President of the Commission for Dialogue with the Jewish People

Fr. Jerzy KRAJ, OFM.
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Cyprus

Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan

Fr. Pietro FELET, scj
Secretary General