Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Church Cleaning in Bethlehem

Greeks and Armenians fight in the sanctuary: is this a brawl, muscular Christianity or just two factions convinced they are right.
Such outbreaks in the Holy Land are not unusual.

When are Christians allowed to defend their rights?


gemoftheocean said...

At it again, are they? Seriously a promoter ought to sell tickets to the event and they can both clean up and make money. 'In this corner, weighing 240 pounds, Father Alexei...' This is a real annual grudge match!

Michael Petek said...

There's no excuse for this kind of violence, because the matter is trivial. If I were the mayor of Bethlehem I'd make the Armenians and the Orthodox elect a representative to come and see me.

Then, in their presence, I'd produce a coin and say 'heads it's the Orthodox, tails it's the Armenians'.

Whoever wins gets the whole Church.

As for your question of when are Christians entitled to defend themselves?

Answer: When, with half of Nigeria's Musllims having a positive opinion of al-Qaeda, Boko Haram bomb Christian churches at Christmas while calling God to witness against His own revelation that Jesus is His divine Son.

There is nothing trivial about the public crimes of murder, blasphemy and false religion.

On an occasion such as this, Christians may justly do more than merely defend themselves.

Terry Nelson said...

I think we can fight all we want just as long as we don't go to bed angry - or something like that. Disn't St. Paul write that? :)

Anonymous said...

It's just the broken eastern churches bitterness against each other. That's all they are, a collection of bitter little brothers. When they aren't united fighting big bro Rome they're busy pummeling each other.

Fr. Marc said...

That's exactly the reason why in the western church priests have housekeepers. Just look what happens if a priest picks up a broom...

Physiocrat said...

I thought the Petrine ministry was meant to stop this kind of thing?

But we should not get involved. These places are of course the sites of key events in salvation history but emotional attachment to them is a form of idolatory. We Catholics should stand aside, weep, and make sure we do not fall into the same error.

It should mean no less when we visualise the events from a text using the Ignatian method.

Richard said...

Absolute scandal "see how these Christians love one another" - Their thoughtless, sefish and aggressive nature has blurred the Christmas message. I hope they are proud.

Pablo the Mexican said...

This is what happens when men do not allow women to carry their cajones around in their purses.

Boys will be boys.

Leave them alone.

If a fight breaks out, my money is always on the Catholic Priests.

If I would have been there, I would have held my Padre's Breviary and made sure to give him some water now and then.


John Scott said...

I’m sorry – as an Eastern Orthodox Christian I am deeply distressed by these fights as well, but when I see us comfy Westerners castigating these dedicated men as Neanderthals and schismatic dirtbags, it leads me to take a step back and consider.

And to say this: Pray for these guys, and be kind to them if you ever have the chance to encounter them someday. From our perspective, it's pretty nigh impossible to get a feel for the pressure cooker they live in. All the usual challenges of a monastic life, PLUS sitting smack on top a multi-dimensional detonator: sacred/secular, Palestinian/Israeli administrations calling the shots, ancient rivalries constantly tweaked by outsiders with an agenda - such as the Ottoman-era rules there that lead to the loss of your jurisdiction if you allow any breach of the “status quo”... all the accumulated pressures of millennia. Plus dealing with the demands, pushiness and sometimes jaw-dropping insanity of THOUSANDS of pilgrims and tourists each day, most of them under pressure to make it back to the bus in time. Oh, and being spat upon by your neighbors on a regular basis.

It's too bad. The whole world watching like hawks to report every outbreak of human frailty in these guys who are so squarely lined up in the demonic crosshairs. I say if they get in a rumble from time to time, shrug it off and pray for them. And invite a couple out for a beer if you happen to be in town. One-on-one, they're great guys!

Frankly, after some experiences in the Middle East, I have developed a bit of a soft spot for a very non-Western human vitality that is as likely to find expression in deep, spontaneous, demonstrative love and sacrifice, as in shouting and swinging sticks. At least they’re not luke-warm relativists. They’re all trying to defend their faith as delivered to them, in an arena where you risk death for being Christian. Fuses blow from time to time. But at least they really, really give a rip. And they’re actually doing pretty well, compared to the mass knife fights and murders that used to happen in the Holy Sepulchre in the 19th century.

MichaelD said...

To be fair, the Greeks also regularly pick fights with the Franciscans over similar issues. Thanks to Mr. Scott for a good overview of the situation. And boys will indeed be boys.

John Scott said...

Ah, dear Anonymous: I’ve been taking internal inventory to determine how broken and bitter I am as an Eastern Christian. You’re half right! Broken indeed, as I confront my habitual lack of love and humility, and how far I still am from living every moment in Christ. But bitter? Not remotely, unless general euphoria and anticipation of meeting our Lord in prayer and partaking in the Holy Eucharist qualify as “bitterness”. As to my bitter little brothers, I’ll check with some of our local parishes’ Serbian, Arab, Greek, Ethiopian, Russian, Bulgarian, French, Irish, American, Romanian, Hispanic, Indian and I-don’t-know-what-else brothers and sisters on that, and get back to you.

Are there uncanonical jurisdictional issues out there? Yes, much of which developed directly from the historical trials of dhimmitude and communism, and maintained unfortunately (and temporarily) by human weakness, hierarchical hubris, and a natural fear of future trials we may undergo in Christ’s name. (I shudder as I contemplate the effects of the much-touted “Arab Spring” the West has so eagerly encouraged and supported.)

But I wish you could have seen our Greek priest giving his blessing to the Antiochians to start a local parish, and encouraging the transfer of many of our long-term parishioners so they could help our “bitter brothers” get established. I hear the Russians are arriving next - Praise be to God!

Pablo: I love it!

John Scott said...

Pablo the Mexican: Forgive me, this will be my last post under this topic, I promise. But - is that your family in the photo? WHAT A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY! What an incredible blessing, my friend! I am deeply, deeply happy for you and your wife and those gorgeous kids!

Physiocrat said...

Why don't they get in a contract cleaning firm and split the cost?

The Rev. M. Forbes said...

I have never completely understood the animosity between the Greeks and the Armentans. Since I do not share their history, well, I guess I never will. Wonderfully hot blooded people in doing ill and good.

I remember a story about the Church of the Nativity. It happened when the church was occupied by radical islamists. When the authorities had cleared out the mess, it appeared that there was to be another Armenian vs Greek confrontation about who would go vack in first. Either the Guardian of the Franciscan community or the Custos took both superiors by the arms and simply suggested that they go in together, which they did. That is the way to behave.

The suggestion about getting Paletinian cleaners is a good one. Unless this is some kind of ritual, thetension would be averted and some employment provided for desperate Palestinian workers.

Mike Forbes+

Ma Tucker said...

Guess we are all human but they are in God's House. I think my mother would say they all deserve a good whipping for this display.

Gigi said...

I agree whole-heartedly that a jointly funded contract cleaning company is probably the best solution, although I am usually the first to defend ritual and tradition. With the eyes of the world watching and the Christuan churches under particular scrutiny at this time of year, this kind of broom-haha doesn't exactly promote unconditional love and goodwill, nor even the security of Bethlehem.
@ John Scott: yes I've already asked Pablo if the photo is of his wife and children. It's a gorgeous photo; what a glowing and radiant tribute to a loving family life!

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