Monday, November 10, 2008

Fight at the Holy Sepulchre

Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb.

The clash between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks broke out in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

The brawling began during a procession of Armenian clergymen commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.

The Greeks objected to the march without one of their monks present, fearing that otherwise, the procession would subvert their own claim to the Edicule — the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus — and give the Armenians a claim to the site.

The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way, sparking the brawl.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police were forced to intervene after fighting was reported. They arrested two monks, one from each side, he said.
A bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead were both taken away in handcuffs after scuffling with dozens of riot police.

"We were keeping resistance so that the procession could not pass through ... and establish a right that they don't have," said a young Greek Orthodox monk with a cut next to his left eye.

The monk, who gave his name as Serafim, said he sustained the wound when an Armenian punched him from behind and broke his glasses.

Father Pakrat of the Armenian Patriarchate said the Greek demand was "against the status quo arrangement and against the internal arrangement of the Holy Sepulcher." He said the Greeks attacked first.

Archbishop Aristarchos, the chief secretary of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate, denied his monks initiated the violence.

After the brawl, the church was crowded with Israeli riot police holding assault rifles, standing beside Golgotha, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, and the long smooth stone marking the place where tradition holds his body was laid out.

The feud is only one of a bewildering array of rivalries among churchmen in the Holy Sepulcher.

The Israeli government has long wanted to build a fire exit in the church, which regularly fills with thousands of pilgrims and has only one main door, but the Churches cannot agree where the exit will be built.

A ladder placed on a ledge over the entrance sometime in the 19th century has remained there ever since because of a dispute over who has the authority to take it down.

More recently, a spat between Ethiopian and Coptic Christians is delaying badly needed renovations to a rooftop monastery that engineers say could collapse.


gemoftheocean said...

Seems to me these two groups were duking it out last Christmas or thereabouts. Once again, the reporters didn't tell you was ahead on points in this tag team match.

fr paul harrison said...

Not very edifying I must say

fr paul harrison

Anonymous said...

Totally freaky scenes.

George said...

On a lighter note Fr Ray, and I know it sounds silly but this looks like something out of a Hong Kong 'Kung-Fu' B-movie! The Flying Ninja Monks Big Brawl, from rival 'schools' fighting it out over 'alleged' ownership of a Holy site.

Why can't they just sit together at a table and talk to each other. Blessed are the peacemakers (or maybe they've missed that one). Thank goodness for the intervention of the Israeli police otherwise these Christians could have drawn a lot more blood from each other!

And on such Hallowed ground. When will human beings ever grow up?

Volpius Leonius said...

Business as usual.

Dilly said...

I promise not to make any puns about the church militant or muscular christianity.....oh dang!

Anonymous said...

At least they did not as in ancient time do it at a Council of the Church.

Anonymous said...

Because the lack of a fire escape could lead to deaths the Israeli authorities could give a date by which the location of the fire escape is mutually agreed on or the Israeli authorities will decide where the fire escape is to go; this is a health and safety issue.

It seems to me that these men are committing a sin of pride and they are giving scandal.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone thought it was part of a new rite?

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