A few words on Palestine’s Christians


A few words on Palestine’s Christians

Santa gives gifts to a Christian family in Bethlehem

With the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Palestine’ often taken to be synonymous with ‘Jews’ and ‘Muslims’ in our media, it’s easy to forget that Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus, has been home to a large and vibrant Christian community, with its rich religious and spiritual traditions, since the founding of the faith.

Palestinian Christians are often the descendants of some of the oldest Christian communities in the world; and their diversity is clear with Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Copts, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Maronites and other Protestant denominations worshiping in Palestine alongside the Greek Orthodox majority.

However today it is thought that only 2.4% of the population of Palestine are Christian.  This is not, as some commentators have attempted to argue, the result of Islamic Fundamentalism, or Christians being forced out of their homeland as a result of the pressures imposed on them by their Muslim neighbours. Rather, in many respects Palestine shines as the region’s beacon of harmony between Muslims and Christians. 

This year, as every year, Christians will gather for Christmas Eve Mass at St. Catherine Church which sits next to the Church of Nativity and which encloses the very spot on which Jesus is believed to have been born. Local parishioners will gather alongside Christian pilgrims and will be joined as well by some of their Muslim brothers and sisters to celebrate the birth of Christ and to pray for peace in the Holy Land. 
As the world’s media centres on the holy town this Christmas Eve, Bethlehem will once again serve as a beacon of light and signal of Muslim-Christian tolerance amidst a troubled conflict. 
Original Source: One Community Many Voices Blog. Reproduced by permission of our friend and supporter, Faith Matters

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