FATHER NIKODEMUS SCHNABEL inspects the damage at Capernaum’s Church of the Loaves and Fishes caused by an arson attack.
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Many “price tag” attacks just involve graffiti.
Other times a fire bomb causes light damage, scorching a wall or two and leaving behind soot and a rank smell in the air. Then there are ones like Thursday’s suspected price-tag attack at the Catholic church at Capernaum.
The fire gutted the building and it is hard to picture it reopening without a floor to ceiling renovation. The worst damage is in a room to the right of the entrance, where the ceiling had caved in completely, the support beams were charred through, and burnt prayer books were piled across the entire floor.
For Father Nikodemus Schnabel, the spokesman for the abbey that runs the Church of the Multiplication, also known as the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, the church is most concerned at the moment with the health of an 80-year-old monk who was hospitalized for smoke inhalation after the fire. The rebuilding process will have to come later.
Schnabel called the building much more than a church, rather “a small paradise” that he said hosts 5,000 visitors a day, including Christians, Muslims, Jews and Druse. He said it also serves as a meeting place for handicapped people of all faiths, who come to the church to use its pool, visit its small zoo and relax in the pastoral surroundings of the Sea of Galilee. The meeting place is now closed indefinitely he said.
He said the abbey doesn’t have the money to repair the damage and he’s not sure if they have insurance, but added that at the moment he’s in shock and is only focusing on the well-being of the monk hospitalized after the blaze.
If there’s a positive takeaway for the clergyman, he said it was in the outpouring of support he’s received since the morning from Israelis of all faiths.
“I know there are some idiots in Israel, but there are mostly good people,” he said.