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Orthodox Priests Fighting In Church of the Nativity A Personal Reflection (Cath Ortho Caucus)
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | December 28, 2011 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/29/2011 2:04:56 PM PST by NYer

The video below is sad and disturbing. More on that in a minute

One of the more surprising, and personally saddest things I have encountered in my trips to the Holy Land, is the encounter with Orthodox clergy. While I had been trained to expect tensions between Jews and Arabs, my experience involving the Orthodox clergy was actually the most tense and shocking. It also surprised me since, speaking for myself, I have always had great admiration for the beautiful liturgies of the Orthodox. And, while I know little of the internal realities of those Churches, I have always hoped for reunion. My experiences in the Holy Land showed me very clearly how difficult and unlikely such a reunion may be. A few personal stories.

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1. Mass at the Calvary – On my last trip, two years ago I was given the magnificent privilege of celebrating Holy Mass with my parishioners right up on the Calvary, at the Latin Altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (See photo at upper right). It remains one of the highlights of my entire life. There I was celebrating Mass just feet away from where the cross had once stood, and over the sight of the nailing.

I had reported to the Latin sacristy at 5:30 AM and vested for the 6:00 AM Mass. One of the Franciscan Friars spoke to me in a kind but firm way about the rules that must be observed. He warned me that under no circumstances was I to set foot outside of the sacristy once I had vested. To do so, he warned me, would likely provoke a violent response from the Orthodox clergy, standing twenty feet away near the entrance to the supulchre. When I smiled in stunned wonderment, he reiterated, “Father I am very serious, if you do so you will provoke an international incident.”

The only way we could get to the Calvary Altar at the other end of the Church was to be led there by an approved escort. Any singing was also forbidden during the Mass, a restriction that made sense given the need not to disturb other liturgies underway.

We were also warned severely not to stray from the Latin Chapel with while wearing our Roman vestments. During the Mass, which was a beautiful experience otherwise, the deacon with me strayed just a little too far to my left and the Orthodox priest standing guard at the Greek altar, wildly gestured that he must step back. Following the Mass, we clergy had, once again, to be carefully escorted back to the sacristy.

2. I do not claim to understand the hostility directed toward Roman clergy by the Orthodox priests of different nationalities. I am sure it is ancient and we are not likely innocent. But I also learned how hostile they are to one another.

Behind the Sepulchre is the Jacobite (Syrian Orthodox) chapel. In it, according to tradition, one can enter a cave said to be the burial chamber of Nicodemus (though it is empty). But the Chapel is scorched black, and in a ruinous state by a fire that happened back in the 1800s. It was explained to me by one of the docents that the chapel has never been repaired because no agreement could be reached among the Orthodox clergy on how to get supplies in to repair the chapel. “Amazing!” I said. “Its pretty normal for here,” said the docent.

3. These sorts of tensions also lead to the Church of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulchre having a cluttered, dingy, and unrepaired quality to them. Even pushing a broom requires delicate negotiations.

4. Cronyism – Over at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem similar tensions exist, as you can see in the video below. When I was last there, the line to go down into the grotto of the nativity below the high altar, came to a halt and did not move for almost an hour. Our tour guide discovered that the reason for this was that a Russian Orthodox priest was conducting a private tour for a group that had paid him to do so. That group had walked past the rest of us in line and the priest took them down and conducted a service and raised funds. The other tour guides finally had to summon the Palestinian police to force an end to the unscheduled and unpermitted “fundraiser.”

Our tour guide told us she always felt the most tense going to the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, since the hostility and unpredictability of the the Orthodox clergy often led to complications. I can attest to that!

The rest of the sites in the Holy land, both in Jerusalem and up in Galilee, were largely overseen by the Franciscans of the Holy Land, and they are most agreeable and kind to people of every faith. They were true gentlemen everywhere we went and they do a splendid job maintaining the shrines too. God bless the Franciscans of the Holy Land and I would encourage you to be generous to them. They do good work in a difficult land.

All this leads to the video below: A sad and disturbing sight of dozens of orthodox and Armenian priests bashing each other with broom handles.

It reminds me of the great sadness I felt in Jerusalem as I was led by a guard to go and say Mass at the seat of mercy. What an odd juxtaposition, and yet what a strong reminder of how much we need the power of the Cross. As the guard led me out and up the steep steps to the Calvary Chapel, I thought of Christ being led up the same hillside, not for his protection, but for my salvation.

And even to this day, at the two holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, it seems Satan still lurks and sulks. The video below shows that he is still able to lash out from time to time and, sadly, we connive in his plots.

Lord have mercy on us and grant us peace on earth.

Watch the video here on YouTube.


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bethlehem; msgrcharlespope; orthodox

1 posted on 12/29/2011 2:05:06 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Catholic ping!


2 posted on 12/29/2011 2:06:19 PM PST by NYer ("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
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To: NYer

Sad. Old hatreds die hard.


3 posted on 12/29/2011 2:18:39 PM PST by rzman21
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To: NYer

A bunch of wild and crazy guys!


4 posted on 12/29/2011 2:20:13 PM PST by Palladin (No Newts!)
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To: NYer

Jesus wept.

There has been murder in the church of the Holy Sepulchre over this idiotic territorial dispute going back centuries. A Muslim holds the keys to this church because he is deemed neutral. Think about that a second and you know this place is far from the Kingdom Jesus spoke of. They are interesting churches to visit but so were the mosques on the temple mount.

The two churches are considered the most holy in Christendom but warring over them I think would mean Jesus would treat these factions like he did the moneychangers.


5 posted on 12/29/2011 2:25:51 PM PST by xp38
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To: NYer

On FE, someone said, IIRC, that the unfortunate altercation was between Greek Orthodox and Armenian (Oriental Orthodox, right, K?) clergy and religious. It’s a shame these still go on, after the centuries.


6 posted on 12/29/2011 2:26:46 PM PST by sayuncledave (et Verbum caro factum est (And the Word was made flesh))
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To: NYer

Such holy men.


7 posted on 12/29/2011 2:27:40 PM PST by ExpatGator (I hate Illinois Nazis!)
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To: NYer
.

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Broom Fight!!!

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8 posted on 12/29/2011 2:36:58 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati)
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To: NYer

Wasn’t it a knock down drag out fight between the Orthodox and Catholics in the Church of the Nativity that led directly to the Crimean war, the Charge of the Light Brigade and such?


9 posted on 12/29/2011 2:45:38 PM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: NYer

This kind of thing didn’t happen when the Knights Templar did the security.


10 posted on 12/29/2011 2:49:08 PM PST by Dogbert41
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To: NYer

Very sad.


11 posted on 12/29/2011 2:50:56 PM PST by tioga (Woo-hoo! Another one bites the dust....bye bye Sen Ben Nelson....let's take the Senate back!)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
A treaty between the French and the Ottoman Empire changing custody of the holy sites was cited as an excuse for the Russians to move into some Ottoman territories . . . but it was mostly just an excuse (since the Greeks and not the Russians had custody at the time, although the Russians wanted custody.) The seizure of Ottoman territory certainly hacked off the Sultan, who had nothing to do with the holy sites other than that the Russians claimed he hadn't been vigorous enough in resisting the French proposal to change custody. I think it was actually the Turks who wound up declaring war on all and sundry, mostly the Russians, which drew in Britain and France.
12 posted on 12/29/2011 3:26:37 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

I saw that fight on BBC world news it was Kung Fu fighting there in Church of Navitey


13 posted on 12/29/2011 3:38:39 PM PST by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: NYer

I saw that fight on BBC world news it was Kung Fu fighting there in Church of Navitey


14 posted on 12/29/2011 3:38:57 PM PST by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: NYer

I saw that fight on BBC world news it was Kung Fu fighting there in Church of Navitey


15 posted on 12/29/2011 3:39:06 PM PST by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: NYer

Please indicate which one was a priest. I looked at the video and could not see any indication any of the people involved were priests. Please get your facts straight.


16 posted on 12/29/2011 8:13:36 PM PST by OldCorps
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To: OldCorps
Please indicate which one was a priest. I looked at the video and could not see any indication any of the people involved were priests. Please get your facts straight.

With the exception of the police, those men sweeping the floors are ALL Orthodox clergy. Naturally, the Orthodox do not wear Roman collars. Perhaps that is why you did not recognize them. And ... these are the FACTS.

17 posted on 12/30/2011 7:25:51 AM PST by NYer ("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
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To: NYer
Lol, both the title and your posts state that those involved were Orthodox priests. Now you back down and call them clergy. You don't even know the difference between a novice, monk, hierodeacon or hieromonk. Yet you insist you were correct?

I for one give thanks to God that only the Orthodox under the Patriarchate of Jerusalem have full control over the Church of the Nativity and the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcure.

18 posted on 12/30/2011 8:06:23 AM PST by OldCorps
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To: NYer

Bump for later reading.


19 posted on 12/30/2011 8:10:10 AM PST by SuziQ
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To: NYer

Disgraceful. This is why more than ever, prayers must be said for the unity of ALL CHRISTIAN believers.


20 posted on 12/30/2011 12:43:50 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: OldCorps

It is broom fights such as this that does not help the Christian cause.


21 posted on 12/30/2011 12:47:33 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: OldCorps
Lol, both the title and your posts state that those involved were Orthodox priests.

Perhaps you should begin with the first line of the article:

One of the more surprising, and personally saddest things I have encountered in my trips to the Holy Land, is the encounter with Orthodox clergy.

Check the facts before you point an accusatory finger.

22 posted on 12/30/2011 1:02:52 PM PST by NYer ("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
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To: Biggirl

Define unity.


23 posted on 12/30/2011 1:03:35 PM PST by OldCorps
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To: NYer
Perhaps you should begin with the first line of the article...

Your passive attempts to justify a false allegation without admitting your error are duely exposed.

You have yet to refute there were Orthodox priests in the melee, and you continue to attempt to change the subject.

Are you a Jesuit or something?

24 posted on 12/30/2011 1:17:08 PM PST by OldCorps
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To: OldCorps

Well that melee did not define unity to me.


25 posted on 12/30/2011 2:44:25 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: NYer

If they were Shaolin clergy you could sell tickets!


26 posted on 12/30/2011 3:02:20 PM PST by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: Biggirl

Do you even know the theological differences between the Armenian, Orthodox and RC churches?


27 posted on 12/30/2011 5:34:50 PM PST by OldCorps
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To: PLMerite

Or even have ESPN present a game day version of this broom fight as a extreme sport.


28 posted on 12/31/2011 3:51:51 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: OldCorps

Stay focus on John 17, which is about the prayer of Jesus that all his followers will be one.


29 posted on 12/31/2011 3:53:23 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: NYer

Now I understand why the Catholics have a special seperate chapel over at the Nativity shrine.


30 posted on 12/31/2011 3:56:41 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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