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Archbishop of Canterbury joins Pope in calling for Status Quo in Jerusalem

Posted on: November 9, 2017 3:57 PM
Archbishop Justin Welby and his wife Caroline light candles in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in May this year, watched over by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III and the Anglican Dean of Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum. The two religious leaders met again this month at Lambeth Palace, where the Patriarch briefed the Archbishop on proposals to alter the “Status Quo” over religiously-owned sites in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has echoed Pope Francis’ call for the “Status Quo” agreement over religious sites in Jerusalem to be protected. After meeting the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, at Lambeth Palace last week, Archbishop Justin said: “I join other Church Leaders in calling for all parties to uphold the Status Quo and resist weakening it. I believe that a continued Christian presence in the Holy Land is of paramount importance.”

The Patriarch has spent recent weeks visiting religious leaders around the world to call for support for the Status Quo, which protects religious communities’ ownership of land in Jerusalem. A Bill before the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, which would restrict the right of churches to deal independently with their land has been signed by 40 Knesset members.

In re-stating his support for Christian communities throughout Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and across the Middle East, Archbishop Justin asserted that Jerusalem must remain a place where people of all faiths can live and thrive together. He had visited the region in May.

Archbishop Justin’s words echo those of Pope Francis, who, after met Patriarch Theophilus III in October, said: “The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all.”

Archbishop Justin praised the close relationships which exist between the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, especially between the Patriarch and Archbishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem and Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Archbishop Justin’s meeting with Patriarch Theophilus III ended with prayer in the Crypt Chapel at Lambeth Palace, concluding with the words of Psalm 122, which implores prayer for the peace of Jerusalem.