Catholic Church condemns 'price-tag' attack on monastery, urges Israel to change 'culture of contempt'
Statement by top clerics, including Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch, urges authorities to apprehend those responsible; Netanyahu: Israel will punish perpetrators severely.
The Catholic Church condemned the so-called "price-tag" attack against a Christian monastery on Tuesday, with high-ranking church offices denouncing the "teaching of contempt" against Christians prevalent in Israeli society.
Earlier Tuesday, the door of a Christian monastery in Latrun, the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, near Jerusalem, was set on fire on morning and anti-Christian slogans were found spray-painted on the monastery's walls.
The arson and graffiti are suspected to be a “price tag” attack, following the recent evacuation of Migron, a settlement outpost in the West Bank.
Monks residing at the monastery noticed the burning door on Tuesday morning, and called police after extinguishing the flames. Graffiti sprayed on the monastery walls included the words “Migron,” and “Jesus is a monkey.”
In a statement released later in the day and signed, among others, by the Latin Patriarch for Jerusalem Fouad Twal and Gerogio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio for Jordan, and former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Catholic Church severely condemned the attack, saying it was the results of an Israeli tendency to scapegoat Christians.
"The Christian community awoke this morning… to discover with horror that once again it is the target of forces of hatred within Israeli society," the missive said, adding "what happened in Latrun is only another in a long series of attacks against Christians and their places of worship."
Further on, the statement asked: "What is going on in Israeli society today that permits Christians to be scapegoat and targeted by these acts of violence?," questioning why the unknown assialtants chose to " vent" their anger over the dismantling of West Bank outposts "against Christians and Christian places of worship?"
"What kind of 'teaching of contempt' for Christians is being communicated in their schools and in their homes? And why are the culprits not found and brought to justice?" the statement asked, urging Israeli "authorities to act to put an end to this senseless violence and to ensure a 'teaching of respect' in schools for all those who call this land home."
The Church's condemnation was followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's denouncement of the act, saying in a statement earlier in the day that that attack was "a criminal act" and that "those responsible for it must be severely punished."