The Roman Catholic Church in Israel has condemned price tag attacks on church property in Jerusalem.
“The wave of fanaticism and intimidation against Christians continues,” read a statement posted Wednesday on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
On Monday, the threat: “Death to Arabs, Christians and all those who hate Israel,” which was topped with a star of David, was found spray painted on a column in front of the Office of the Assembly of Bishops, Notre Dame of Jerusalem.
The graffiti comes two weeks before the Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Israel for his first visit as pope.
“Mere coincidence? The Notre Dame Center is property of the Holy See and this provocation comes two weeks before the Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land and Jerusalem,” the statement says.
The statement condemned Israel’s political leaders, saying: “Aside from the fact-finding visit to the local police, no gesture of solidarity and condemnation came from the Israeli political side. It has shocked the faithful deeply.”
“The Bishops are very concerned about the lack of security and lack of responsiveness from the political sector, and fear an escalation of violence,” according to the statement.
Church leaders in Israel plan to make security and political officials “aware of their responsibilities,” according to the statement.
The pope will visit Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority May 24-26. He is scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians. He will meet with Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.