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World News

Church leaders urge the international community to pray for peace in Jerusalem

by Donna Birrell

Church leaders in Jerusalem are urging the international community to pray for peace after violent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protestors. 

A statement, by leaders of the city's Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic, Armenian and Anglican churches, says the "growing tension, backed mainly by right-wing radical groups, endangers the already fragile reality in and around Jerusalem."

It comes as hundreds of people have been injured outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on a national day marking Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. The unrest is the latest in a series of confrontations that threatens to push the contested city towards wider conflict. 

The statement says the violence "violates the sanctity of Jerusalem" and "undermines the safety of worshippers and the dignity of Palestinians who are subject to eviction." It urges the international community to "intervene in order to put an end to these provocative actions, as well as to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

The Dean of St George's College in Jerusalem, the Very Reverend Richard Sewell, told Premier it's very unusual for the heads of churches of Jerusalem to make such a statement :

"It's very difficult for the church leaders to make statements as their words can sometimes be twisted and used against them and they do not really make political statements. They make statements that are about the safety and welfare of the people and are about the freedom to worship. They make a regular statement at Easter and Christmas - a declaration of our faith and then, just occasionally, when something is really overwhelmingly concerning and has deep pastoral and safety issues at the core, then they will be made."

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