THE Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, the Most Revd Fouad Twal, is
urging the Israeli authorities to apprehend those responsible for
spraying anti-Christian and anti-American graffiti on the walls of
the Deir Rafat monastery, west of the city.
Speaking during a visit to the monastery, he said: "We, like the
nuns, will continue to pray for these sick minds, so that the Lord
takes away their ignorance and their narrowness of mind. However,
we must not be silent, and we will do everything to ensure that
justice is done, and that these vandals and fanatics are
The monastery, which was established in 1927 and has the words
"Ave Maria" carved in many languages on its main door, is also a
shrine to the Virgin Mary: the Hebrew graffiti disparaged her, as
well as Jesus. The anti-American graffiti was critical of the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process brokered by the United States.
The Israeli police are carrying out an investigation into the
desecration of the monastery.
Initial suspicion has fallen on a small fringe group of
right-wing settlers who have vandalised Christian property in the
past, in protest at what they perceive as their government's
conciliatory attitude towards the Palestinians. Their actions have
been widely condemned by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The latest vandalism occurred as church and state authorities in
the Holy Land were completing preparations for the visit of Pope
Francis at the end of May. Patriarch Twal said that his visit to
Deir Rafat was designed to show support for the nuns there, and to
help them overcome fear.
Expressing his condemnation of the desecration of the monastery
"in the strongest terms", the Patriarch said: "This is bad for the
state of Israel; it is bad for us; it is bad for everybody. In this
Holy Land we do not need these actions - especially these actions
against a monastery where we have Sisters just praying for peace.
They are not involved in any politics. I don't believe this is a
proper way to receive the Holy Father here next month."
Pope Francis will travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan
during his visit to the Middle East.