After the wall of a monastery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was vandalized earlier in September, the latest in a string of attacks on Christians in Israel, a representative from the Vatican is making the uncustomary move of speaking out.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa said he believes “the blame can go all around,” and that the tiny Christian population in the Holy Land seems almost invisible.
“We do not exist for the majority,” Pizzaballa told the AP. “They have other priorities. On the other side, we as a minority maybe didn’t invest enough energy and initiatives,” to reach out to the majority.
Pizzaballa described the atmosphere in Israel as “uncomfortable” for Christians, despite their right to worship openly and freely.
Prior to the attack in September, in which vandals sprayed “Jesus was a monkey” in Hebrew on the outer walls of the Catholic monastery in Latrun, two other monasteries and a Baptist church were also vandalized, the Telegraph reported.
It is not known who the vandals are, whether they are Muslim or Jewish, or why they target specifically Christian sites.
But even worse, Pizzaballa told the AP, was the incident in July in which a member of the Knesset ripped up a copy of the New Testament that had been mailed to him by Christian missionaries in front of TV cameras.
"This is a member of the Knesset. He is a representative of Israeli institutions," Pizzaballa said. “Yes the book was a provocation, but you cannot rip the New Testament in front of the cameras and throw it in the trash and ask that the New Testament be banned from the country. This is unacceptable for every Christian believer."