JERUSALEM (AP) — A top Roman Catholic official has taken the rare step of asking Israel's president to help put an end to attacks on Christian holy sites.
The custodian of holy places in the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, recalled in his letter sent Sunday to President Shimon Peres that vandals spray-painted "Death to Christians" and "We'll crucify you" on the Baptist Church in Jerusalem and similar hate graffiti on a Greek Orthodox monastery in the city.
Pizzaballa wrote that "red lines that must not be crossed have been crossed" and asked Peres' help to eradicate "this dangerous phenomenon."
The anti-Christian graffiti is suspected to be the work of Jewish extremists who have attacked various targets, including Christian and Muslim holy sites as well as Israeli military equipment, to protest what they believe to be anti-settler positions by the government.
Peres' office said the president took the appeal "very seriously" and was working on the matter personally. It said top advisers have already been in touch with Pizzaballa, and were working with Jerusalem City Hall and national ministries to prevent further violence against Christian sites.
- Shimon Peres