“Praying for those who hate us”
The Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem has been targeted by vandals again. Last Saturday night, unknown persons defaced the walls and doors of the German-speaking Benedictine monastery on the outer edges of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Also targeted were nearby establishments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Church. The graffiti, which had been written in Hebrew and in several different handwriting styles, proclaimed: “Christians go to hell,”; “Death to heathen Christians, the heretical enemies of Israel,” “Revenge for Israelis” or “Erased be His name.”
A sword dripping with blood was also drawn next to a Star of David.
The community of monks reacted with dismay to the incidents. “We are praying for those who hate us,” Father Nikodemus Schnabel, sub-prior of the monastery, said to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “If we are being attacked because we are Christians, then we want to react as Christians.” When asked, Father Nikodemus was not able to explain why the extremists had targeted the Abbey of the Dormition again. However, he emphasized that the Jewish community had reacted with commiseration.
“We are thankful for all of our friends in Israel who stand by us in solidarity,” said Father Nikodemus. “We as monks of the Abbey of the Dormition will not cease praying for reconciliation, justice and peace – as well as for the perpetrators of last night, that the hatred may disappear from their hearts.” But in the meantime, he has also called for the Israeli authorities to act. “We ask that the security forces take this criminal act seriously and finally take steps to improve the security situation on Mount Zion, something which has been promised to us since the summer of 2013.”
The police had already approved the installation of cameras in the summer of 2013, after parked cars belonging to the monastery were heavily damaged and vitriolic graffiti was discovered. However, Father Nikodemus said that nothing has happened to date. Over the last few years the Benedictine community has repeatedly been targeted by what are suspected to be Jewish extremists.
Shortly after Pope Francis visited in May of 2014, an attempt was made to set fire to the abbey church in Jerusalem. Up to this point, the worst incident was an arson attack on Tabgha Priory belonging to the monastic community on the Sea of Galilee, in June of 2015. The priory sustained damages totaling more than 2.32 million dollars. Two people suffered from smoke poisoning. The perpetrators, Jewish extremists, have since been arrested. It remains unclear how much of the costs for the reconstruction of the destroyed parts of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes the state of Israel will undertake to pay.
For years now, Christian and Muslim churches and establishments have been under attack by what are presumably Jewish extremists. The perpetrators are suspected to be primarily extremist Jews who support the Settlement movement. Hardly any arrests or convictions have yet to be made. Recently, in December, the cemetery of the Salesian monastery of Beit Gemal in Israel was desecrated by unknown persons who overturned and damaged crosses.
* Cover photo: Father Nikodemus Schnabel OSB is subprior of the German speaking Benedictine monastery Dormitio Mariae in Jerusalem. The abbey has been attacked repeatedly by presumably Jewish extremists.
By Oliver Maksan, ACN International, email@example.com
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org