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Bishop Lang: 'Religious bigotry' should not continue unchecked after arson attack on church in Tabgha, Israel

23/06/2015 10:00 am

Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops' Conference Department for International Affairs, has released a statement expressing his sadness and regret at the destruction caused by a fire on 18 June that destroyed part of a Catholic Church on the Sea of Galilee. Authorities believe it was a deliberate attack carried out by Jewish extremists. 

"It is with a sense of great sadness and deep regret that I learnt last week of the arson attack that gutted part of the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

"A verse from a Hebrew prayer denouncing the worship of "false gods" was spray-painted in red on a church wall, and the common consensus seems to be that Jewish zealots were responsible.

"This is an important church in our tradition that is revered by Christians worldwide. It was built in the 1980’s on the site of 4th and 5th century houses of worship that commemorated Jesus' miraculous feeding of 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

"Attacking, desecrating and damaging any church or house of worship anywhere in the world is an inexcusable act. This is more so in the Holy Land that is home to followers of the three monotheistic traditions. Yet, Rabbis for Human Rights stated there have been 43 hate crime attacks on churches, mosques and monasteries in Israel and the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2009.

"Today, I call upon the competent Israeli authorities not only to arrest those responsible for such attacks that take religious bigotry to a new level but also to ensure that such incidents do not continue unchecked. The whole MENA region can certainly do with less of those vicious attacks."

Rt Rev Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
Chair, Bishops' Conference Department for International Affairs

What can I do?

Israel's Ambassador to the UK, at least for the next few months, is Daniel Taub. You can write to the Ambassador to ask that there is a swift and effective investigation and prosecution of the culprits. 

Contact via the Embassy's website.