Statement [after occupation of Saint John’s Hopice in the Old City [on April 11, 1990]
Patriarchs, Custos and Heads of Churches and Christian Communities

Today, Monday, April 23rd, 1990, We, the Patriarchs, the Custos, the Heads of the Christian Churches and Communities in Jerusalem, have gathered together to consider our response to the extremely grave events that occurred during Holy Week and their enduring consequences.

In the afternoon of April 11th, 1990, Wednesday in Holy Week, one hundred and fifty settlers, many of them armed men, forcibly occupied St. John’s Hospice in the heart of the Christian Quarter of the Old City, a 3000 square meter property of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

Their action received support from Israeli authorities. It was financed, at least in great part, by the government, and there have been visits by government ministers and parliamentary authorities to encourage the settlers. Subsequently, it appeals that high level governmental authorities intervened to restrain the police from carrying out judicial eviction orders.

This action occurred towards the culmination of Holy Week and caused grievous disruption to some of the most solemn rites of the Christian religion, at the holiest shrine of Christendom, the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre Church.

This government-backed settlers’ action continues to provoke almost daily violent Incidents in and around the area containing the Holy Sepulchre and the centres of church governance, and has occasioned the provocative presence of numerous armed men in the same restricted area. Consequently, freedom of access to the Holy Sepulchre and freedom of worship within it have been threatened.

This act of armed settlement seriously jeopardises the integrity, cultural, and religious autonomy of the Christian, Armenian, and Muslim Quarters, in violation of the centuries-old status an character of the Holy City, honoured by all previous rulers of Jerusalem, and in the international community (and which the Israeli Government authorities have repeatedly pledged themselves to uphold). This action further endangers the survival of all Christian communities in the Holy City.

We, the heads of Jerusalem’s Christian Churches Communities unreservedly condemn the actions of the settler.

We deplore the open support and encouragement it has received from Israel government quarters. We demand that the Israeli authorities effect the immediate removal of these settlers and secure the property for its legitimate owners, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

We appeal to the International Community, to all churches and religious leaders, and to all people of good will throughout the world to give their active support to our call.

We have unanimously decided that:

  • On Friday, April 27, all Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem. Nazareth, and Bethlehem and elsewhere in the Holy Land will close their doors as of 9:00 a.m. and will not reopen until the following day.
  • On the same day, all church bells throughout the country will ring a funeral toll every hour from 9:00 until noon.
  • Sunday, April 29, shall be a special day of prayer on behalf of the Christian Community of Jerusalem, in which we invite our fellow Christian believers throughout the world to join.

We have decided to remain in an open session to monitor developments in the case.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem
Custos of the Holy Land
Coptic Archbishop of Jerusalem
Syrian Archbishop of Jerusalem
Ethiopian Archbishop of Jerusalem
Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and President Bishop of Anglican Church
The Greek-Catholic Patriarchal Vicar
The Lutheran Propst of Jerusalem
Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem

JT.: S. 27f (there only fragments) / Full: Lindén  77f

Signed also by the German Propst