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In the face of looming persecution, Israeli Catholics Joyfully celebrate Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy week, commemorates the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, where he was greeted by jubilant crowds bearing palm branches, as God states in His Holy Word - John 12 : 12 And on the next day, a great multitude that was to come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.

Today, on the 2nd April 2023, large crowds attended the traditional procession on the Mount of Olives with palm fronds and olive branches to celebrate the day.

Catholics, led by Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, packed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is recognized as the place where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected, and is one of the holiest Christian sites in the world.

Amid the recent spate of attacks on Christians in Israel, Churches in Jerusalem appealed to the government on Friday to ensure Christians are able to worship freely during Easter and its run-up, citing concern at mounting violence and acts of desecration over the past year.

Custodian of the Holy Land Francesco Patton recently stated -

“We are horrified and hurt in the wake of the many incidents of violence and hatred that have taken place recently against the Catholic community in Israel,” “it is no coincidence that these serious incidents are taking place specifically now.”

“We expect and demand from the Israeli government and law enforcement to act with determination to stamp these serious phenomena.”

The attacks have ranged from statues being broken to assault and even a case in which two Israeli soldiers were detained on suspicion of spitting at the Armenian archbishop and other pilgrims during a procession in the Old City.

Along with attacks from the general public, Israeli ministers have introduced a bill that would make it illegal to preach the gospel in Israel. The text, entitled “Prohibition of solicitation for religious conversion,” would amend the Israeli criminal law from 1977 by providing for up to “one year in jail” in the case of an attempt at “conversion,” a penalty that rises to two years “if the person is a minor.”

Persecution has not deterred Christians in the past, and it will not deter them now. The Israeli government, like those in the past, will discover that persecution only strengthens the resolve of Christians and leads to many more people recognising the Truth of Jesus Christ. Today Christians are filled with Joy in hopeful expectation towards the day when they will jubilantly receive Jesus on His return.

Author - Conor Mc Donnell


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