Striden i Nasaret viser behovet for en avtale om Jerusalem


VATICAN ( -- Msgr. Robert Stern, the president of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, has argued that the controversy over the building of a mosque in Nazareth is "a prefect illustration of the necessity for international guarantees for Jerusalem."

Msgr. Stern, who was in Rome in December to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, said that when Israeli authorities approved the construction of the mosque, they "forgot that a conflict between Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land has repercussion for the entire world." The American priest said that the construction project is adding serious complications to an already tense situation. And he suggested that similar forces could quickly come into play in Jerusalem.

"I fear for the future if this mosque is built," Msgr. Stern told reporters in Rome. He explained that the problem lies not in the fact that a mosque is being built-- since several other mosques are already in place in Nazareth-- but in the deliberate choice of a site adjacent to the Basilica of the Annunciation.

The Pontifical Mission for Palestine enjoys good relations with Palestinian authorities, as well as with Israeli government officials, Msgr. Stern reported. And he added that much of the humanitarian aid supplied by the Mission goes to Muslims, so that relations between the faiths are also strong. However, he pointed out that the number of Christians in the Holy Land is steadily dropping, and that the struggle to maintain a Christian presence there is set back when highly visible signs of Christianity-- such as the Annunciation basilica-- are treated with indifference.

Catholic World News Service