Image of Saint Stephen Church vandalism..
(photo credit: COURTESY OF LATIN PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM)
For the third time in four years, the Beit Jimal Monastery, located adjacent to Beit Shemesh, has been vandalized.
According to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, vandals on Wednesday night shattered stained-glass windows depicting passages from Jesus; destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary; and damaged furniture.
Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, patriarchal vicar in Jerusalem, called for tolerance after deeming the ransacking “not only an act of vandalism, but an action against the sacredness of the holy places and the faith of people.”
“The Holy Land is deep [in] faith and culture,” Marcuzzo said in a Friday statement. “We must live together with the diversity of beliefs. It is absolutely necessary to accept others, to accept each other in our diversity.”
In a strongly worded statement, the Council of Catholic Churches in Jerusalem demanded the suspects be arrested and brought to justice.
“The State of Israel, with all its institutions concerned, [must] punish [those] who were responsible for such acts because it could easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequence, which would be most unwelcome in the current tense religious climate,” the council cautioned.
Police said an investigation has been opened into the incident.
The monastery was last vandalized in January of last year
, when monks of the Salesian Order discovered dozens of cruciform tombstones knocked over.
In 2013, the same monastery was attacked with a firebomb, which caused minor damage, and the words “Price tag” were spray-painted on an exterior wall of the building.
The cemetery was desecrated in a similar incident in 1981.
Following the 2016 vandalism, the Latin Patriarchate called on police to do more to apprehend the suspects, who still have not been arrested.
“We condemn this incident, and remind all that this is not the first of its kind committed in recent years, most of which remain registered as if committed by ‘unknown assailants,’” the organization said at the time.
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