Jerusalem churches eye Christian tourists
JERUSALEM - Leaders of Christian churches in Jerusalem in an Easter message on Tuesday urged believers around the world to visit the Holy Land.
"As heads of churches in Jerusalem, we call upon all Christians from around the ecumenical world to come and visit with our churches and walk with the living stones of the Holy Land in the footsteps of our risen Lord," said the heads of 11 Christian faiths in the city in a joint statement.
"For those who are not able to make their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we appeal to them to hold the peoples of this land in their prayers, particularly the Christian presence that keeps dwindling and faces existential challenges throughout the Middle East," it said.
"In particular, pray with us for the situation in Syria; in Lebanon; in Palestine and Israel; in Egypt; in Iraq, and wherever there is political unrest," added the church leaders, including the Latin, Greek Orthodox and Armenian patriarchs.
For the Western churches in Jerusalem, Holy Week started on March 24 with the traditional Palm Sunday procession from the Mount of Olives to the walled Old City, with 35,000 Palestinian Christians and pilgrims from abroad taking part, Israeli police said.
It ends Sunday with believers celebrating the gospel account of Christ's resurrection from the dead after his crucifixion.
Orthodox Christians, who are the majority in the Palestinian Christian community, will celebrate Easter on May 5, along with Roman Catholics in the Holy Land living outside Jerusalem or Bethlehem.