Christian lands in Jerusalem could be candle 3 flames
confiscated warns UK Church leaders. 

An article in Christian Today on 22nd December reads:

Church leaders from across the UK have rallied around the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, in his campaign against a bill making its way through Israel's parliament.

The Patriarch has just completed a visit to Britain as part of an international tour focusing on the plight of the Church in the city.

Theophilos, regarded as the most senior Christian figure in the Holy Land, has highlighted a proposed Bill of Church Lands, signed by 40 Knesset members, that would allow the Israeli government to confiscate lands leased by Churches to third parties. 

This week he met with Prince Charles as well as government ministers Alistair Burt and Rory Stewart alongside other parliamentarians and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Church property near the Jaffa Gate has been leased to Jewish settlers in a controversial deal. UK Christian leaders have backed the Patriarch. Coptic Archbishop Angaelos of London said: 'Property rights and religious freedom are at the bedrock of any democracy. The proposed bill curtails both. I join the Patriarch of Jerusalem and church leaders in the Holy Land in calling on the relevant authorities to reaffirm their commitment to the Status Quo.'

Free Churches Moderator and a President of Churches Together in England, Hugh Osgood, said: 'This proposal represents an intolerable infringement of the Status Quo and the legitimate rights of the Churches and should be recognised for what it is: an attack on the property rights of the Christian community. We urge religious and political leaders in the United Kingdom and around the world to join us in speaking out against this threat to religious freedom, which would set a dangerous precedent for other faiths in the Holy Land.'

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has written to the Patriarch and other Church leaders in Jerusalem expressing his 'solidarity' over the proposed legislation, saying it represents 'an intolerable infringement of the Status Quo and the legitimate rights of the Churches and should be recognised for what it is: an attack on the property rights of the Christian community. We urge religious and political leaders in the United Kingdom and around the world to join us in speaking out against this threat to religious freedom, which would set a dangerous precedent for other faiths in the Holy Land.'

Last month, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: 'I join other Church Leaders in calling for all parties to uphold the Status Quo and resist weakening it. I believe that a continued Christian presence in the Holy Land is of paramount importance.'

The issue of Church land has dogged the reign of Patriarch Theophilus since an employee of his predecessor Irenaios used a power of attorney to sell valuable properties near the Jaffa Gate to a right-wing settler group in 2004. The Church challenged the legality of the transaction, which it said would contribute to Christians being expelled from the Old City, but has so far failed in the courts. It has lodged an appeal to the High Court of Justice. 

a ChurchInsight siteLow GraphicsCopyrightT&CsPrivacyHelpRegistered Charity 1110782, Comp Reg No 5354231