Military Curfew Hampers Week of Unity in Jerusalem

Impedes First Event of Ecumenical Celebrations

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JERUSALEM, JAN. 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity opened with a setback in Jerusalem because of the Israeli military curfew.



That's because the traditional conference, scheduled for Sunday in the Greek-Melkite-Catholic Emmanuel Monastery near Bethlehem, could not be held.

Nothing like this had happened since the Gulf War in 1991, reported Vatican Radio. In January of that year, the general curfew also hampered movement from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and within the latter.

Father Frans Bowen, director of the magazine Proche Orient Chrétien, was supposed to address conferees on ecumenical activities of the past year.

The event, usually well attended, would have preceded by a few hours the first religious celebration scheduled in St. George's Anglican Cathedral, in East Jerusalem.

This religious celebration was held, and many faithful, religious and particularly leaders of the Christian communities of Jerusalem or their representatives attended, and were welcomed by Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal.

All those who participated in this celebration met again on Monday in the Church of St. Savior, of the Friars Minor of the Custody of the Holy Land.

The Franciscan religious prepared a symbolic representation before the altar of the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:7, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels," the theme of the Week of Prayer.

An Arabic-speaking Catholic woman and a Hebrew-speaking Catholic man prayed for peace during the religious ceremony. A Philippine immigrant and two women religious of the Romanian Orthodox Church sang hymns of their respective traditions.

On Tuesday, the organization of the Prayer for Unity was entrusted to the Lutherans, in the Church of the Redeemer, near the Holy Sepulcher. Wednesday was the turn of the Armenian Orthodox in St. James Cathedral.

The program for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Jerusalem includes a visit today to the Cenacle. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively, the Syrian Orthodox (in St. Mark's Church), Ethiopian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite-Catholic (in the Church of the Annunciation) will receive the faithful of all the Christian communities.