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Holy Land Christians face difficult plight, says Franciscan president


Catholics attend the Easter Vigil Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem April 3 this year. CNS photo/Debbie Hill

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NEWTON -- Picture living in Newton and that the town has no schools, no hospitals and no employers. Every day for 45 years you go to work in Boston until the day you are turned away at the border. You lose your job, your children cannot get an education and if you or a loved one becomes ill, there is no medical help available.

This scenario, proposed by Father Peter Vasko, OFM, to members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, illustrates the plight of Christians in the Holy Land. Father Vasko, president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, spoke at the order's northeastern annual gathering at the Marriott Hotel in Newton on Oct. 16.

Speaking on "Christian Turmoil in the Holy Land," Father Vasko said that American citizens would be incensed if their mobility were barred because of the actions of a small number of terrorists.

"At what price do you punish an entire people because of 10 terrorists? Arrest those terrorists. Put those people in jail, but for God's sake, don't blame every man, woman and child because they happen to be called Palestinian," he said.

Father Vasko added that it is not only Palestinians whose movements are barred. This past Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there were more Israeli police than Christian believers because Israel refused to let the Christians, fellow Jerusalemites, come to that church to celebrate Holy Week.

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