The Jerusalem churches rejected on Wednesday the restrictions to be imposed by Israeli forces during the Holy Light ceremony at the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem’s Old City, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The ceremony, which is scheduled for next Saturday, is part of the orthodox Easter celebrations, according to the Julian calendar.
The Status Quo Committee of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land, and the Armenian Patriarchate rejected in a statement what they described as the “unreasonable restrictions” by Israeli forces for the Holy Light ceremony.
“The celebration of the Holy Light Ceremony is a great moment that ties the faithful to the light of Jesus Christ. The ceremony has been faithfully taking place in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for nearly 2000 years attracting Christians from around the world,” they said.
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“This year, after many attempts made in goodwill, we are not able to coordinate with the Israeli authorities, as they are enforcing unreasonable, and unprecedented, restrictions on access to the Holy Sepulcher,” the statement read.
“These heavy-handed restrictions will limit access to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy Light Ceremony.”
Last year, Israeli forces placed barriers throughout the Old City that made it impossible for the local Christian communities to attend the Holy Light Ceremony in the Holy Sepulcher, “impeding their freedom to worship and witness the miracle of the resurrection,” according to the statement.
The churches stressed that “we shall continue to uphold the status quo customs, and the ceremony will be held as customary for two millennia and all who wish to worship with us are invited to attend.”