BETHLEHEM — The annual cleaning of one of Christianity’s holiest churches deteriorated into a brawl between rival clergy Wednesday, as dozens of monks feuding over sacred space at the Church of the Nativity battled each other with brooms until police intervened.
The ancient church, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, is shared by three Christian denominations — Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox. Wednesday’s fight erupted between Greek and Armenian clergy, with both sides accusing each other of encroaching on parts of the church to which they lay claim.
The monks were tidying up the church ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, following celebrations by Western Christians on Dec. 25. The fight erupted between monks along the border of their respective areas. Some shouted and hurled brooms.
Palestinian security forces rushed in to break up the melee, and no serious injuries were reported. A Palestinian police spokesman would not immediately comment.
A fragile status quo governs relations among the denominations at the ancient church, and to repair or clean a part of the structure is to own it, according to accepted practice. That means that letting other sects clean part of the church could allow one to gain ground at another’s expense. Similar fights have taken place during the same late-December cleaning effort in the past.
Tensions between rival clergy at the church have been a fact of life there for centuries and have often been caught up in international politics.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Get notified of the latest updates from MassisPost.

You May Also Like

Monument Unveiled in Gyumri on Anniversary of Pope Francis’s Visit

GYUMRI (RFE/RL) — Authorities in Gyumri unveiled a new religious monument on…

Karabakh Must Have Final Say in Peace Process

STEPANAKERT — Possible peace agreements reached by Armenia and Azerbaijan could not…

Two Armenian Families from Kobani to Arrive in Yerevan Next Week

ISTANBUL — Two out of three Armenian families that have moved to…

What the U.S. House’s Impeachment Inquiry Wouldn’t Ask Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

By David Boyajian Turkey, the increasingly wayward NATO member, has been making…