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Patriarch 'threatens to close Sepulchre church' over bank freeze
Published Friday 02/11/2012 (updated) 05/11/2012 15:02
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The church is built over the traditional Jesus crucifixion site.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is threatening to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in a dispute over water bills, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Patriarch Theophilos III said he will shut the church doors in several days, if Israeli authorities do not lift a bank freeze on the Patriarchate's account, Maariv reported.

The church, said to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial, is struggling with a 9 million shekel ($2.3 million) unpaid bill owed to the Jerusalem water company.

This week the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which has extensive and valuable property holdings in the Holy Land and maintains a headquarters in the ancient church, had its bank account frozen, said an official at water company Hagihon.

The General Secretary of the Patriarchate, Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, had no comment on the Maariv report. He said the church was willing to pay water bills from now on, but that the accumulated debt, stemming back years, would be problematic.

"We trust God and hope that people will help us," he said, adding that the Patriarchate has sent letters to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Maariv said that for decades there had been a tacit agreement between the church and a former mayor of Jerusalem, exempting the Patriarchate from paying for water piped to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A spokesman for Hagihon, however, said the law did not permit the company to make such exemptions.

Talks with the Patriarchate have been going on for years, he said. The company had refrained from taking lawful enforcement steps, such as shutting the water off at the church, in order not to disrupt prayers and tourist activity at the site.

The church, inside Jerusalem's Old City, encompasses Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and the tomb where he was buried and resurrected.

A church was first built there in the 4th century under Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, whose mother, Queen Helena, had visited the site and identified it as the place of Jesus' resurrection.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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1 ) The church should NOT pay for / HOLY WATER
02/11/2012 18:43
Jesus walked on it why pay for it?

2 ) Arnold / Canada
02/11/2012 19:38
The 4th century ? A church ? I thought the muslims were the only people in Jerusalem all that time ago. Seems like the Christians were there long before Islam came into being. Which means the Jews were there before the Christians. Thank you Greek Orthodox Christians for proving my point.

3 ) Sabrina / USA
02/11/2012 21:33
Just crazy. Well, I suppose it's better than seeing the monks duking it out in the church lol

4 ) Robby / USA
03/11/2012 00:53
"... if Israeli authorities do not lift a bank freeze ..." This is an dispute between the water company and one of it's customers, what do Israeli authorities have to do with it?

5 ) Palestinian / Palestine
03/11/2012 16:23
# 2 Arnold Canada: typical comment from someone who knows NOTHING about Palestine or the conflict! Palestinian Christians, like their Muslim brothers, have been persecuted by the zionists since 1948 and still are! go educate yourself instead of spreading your stupidity all over the internet!!!

6 ) ian / australia
04/11/2012 02:53
#2 "The 4th century ? A church ?" Yes, Arnold with a Roman temple underneath it (where St. Helena found the true cross!)...and probably a Jebusite altar to Zedek (or El Elyon) under that, from when the city was called Yabous...before the Canaanite splinter group which renamed itself Israel and invented a lot of new stories about its origins and history, built the famous temple for its new god Jehovah.

7 ) ian / australia
04/11/2012 04:29
#4 Yes, it is a bit strange. Why freeze the account when the monks have agreed to pay? (They can't still be mad about Jesus.) And how does closing help? How much water would that save? And really, how much water could they use? It's not like there's a pool, or a leisure centre, or toilets (to the best of my knowledge).

8 ) Ma.Yolanda Obieta / philippines
27/02/2013 10:20
Why charge for water when water come from the original source and creator of water and meant for mankind?GOD

9 ) alfred alolga / ghana
02/03/2013 01:01
How do one help contribute to defray this debt if the church decides to pay
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