Skip to comments.Church of the Holy Sepulchre may close over water bill
Posted on 11/05/2012 5:28:08 PM PST by BlackVeil
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has warned that it may shut its doors to pilgrims in protest at a dispute with an Israeli water company, reports the BBC.
The church, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, has had its bank account frozen at the request of Hagihon over an unpaid $2.3m bill.
The dispute has left hundreds of priests, monks and teachers unpaid. The church has traditionally not been charged for water, but Hagihon says it is owed money for the past 15 years.
According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, there was a tacit agreement between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem - which, along with the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Franciscan Custos, is jointly responsible for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre's administration - and a former mayor of the city that the church would be exempt from water bills.
But in 2004, Hagihon sent a demand to the church for 3.7m shekels, or $950,000. It was backdated to when the company took over the water supply in the late 1990s.
Which is a point well taken.
However, this problem, in Jerusalem, while of a more ordinary type, can be quite serious. I believe that the Church should be exempt from as many charges as possible, because it brings in huge revenues for the city, from pilgrims and tourists.
Backdating the water bill seems more like extortion. That being said, this should have been worked out long before it became a problem. If there was an agreement, the Church should have got it in writing. Otherwise our Lord might have told us to render onto Caesar the things that are Caesar...
Where’s Moses whe you need him “and he smote the rock and water came forth”.
...over an unpaid $2.3m bill.
What many people don’t realize about this issue, is that the Church isn’t exactly owned by any of the religions there. Nor is it exactly without management, to explain the bizarre arrangement between the Christian Churches over who has responsibility over what in the Holy Sepulcher would literally take an immensely long post.
It has literally been both the collective responsibility of six Christian church denominations which are not in communion with each other, and at the same time not a unified responsibility. This is because each has its own faction which vehemently protects its own fief from encroachment by the other factions. There have been literal battles inside the church between clergy over who has the right to remove a single ladder from one place.
In fact, neither one of them can open the doors to the Church every day. That responsibility has for well over 100 years fallen to a prominent Muslim family that opens the Church every day.
One can find no where else the biggest visible sign of Christian scandal than the factionalism that exists over the site of the crucifixion and burial of Christ.
In Panama, in 1985, I was drafted to be an officer in a dying club in Gamboa, in the former Canal Zone. It was claimed that the club owed 10’s of thousands of dollars in unpaid water bills. A little investigating showed that the water company had not fixed a leak, and that was where all the water had been going.
As I recall, we ended up paying nothing.
Sounds like a shakedown to me.
Perhaps the Church should freeze the right for the Kenesit to meet on Church property until the issue is cleared up.
After all the Israeli Congressional Building is built on land that the Church owns the deeds to. Perhaps the Church could strike up a new land rental value equal to the fresh water value and backdate it the same amount of time.
Then everyone wins, the Bean Counter recovers Millions of dollars for the State, which he can then use to pay off the huge bill to the Church...
(Once trust is violated, its pretty hard to regain)
is there a contract the was signed by an authorized representative of the church agreeing to the monthly water charge?
if not... the only thing the company can do is cut off water and demand a contract be established
otherwise, anyone can make anything up and pretend to be owed the money
Would it be sacreligious for me to suggest that they turn some wine into water?
It’s not a “Christian scandal” that a couple guys from two muslim families open the church daily.
That’s a tradition dating from 1192, first imposed by Saladin.
The “bizarre arrangement between churches” was not actually decided between the churches. The status quo was imposed by muslim governance of the Ottoman empire.
I spent a week there attending services.
It is nothing like you describe.
The small chapel shared by the smaller denominations has rare conflicts between monks, they have very little assigned space and jealously preserve what they have there.
I don’t even think that is such a scandal, it just means they treasure holy things.
When I hear people overhyping the conflict there, I really wonder what is motivating them.
Maybe people want to convince others not to go there, which would be a real shame I think.
In Muslim countries the Church suffers the hard persecution of actual martyrdom, beatings, torture, outright theft and vandalism of Church property, in the secular West (of which Israel is a part) the Church suffers soft persecution: firings for wearing crucifixes or offering to pray with patients or clients, mockery in the media, water bills when a traditional agreement provided water free of charge...
It’s not just the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the city in Kansas where I live the water plant stands on land that was granted to the city in a bequest on the condition that water be provided to churches and schools free of charge. The city started billing churches for water last summer. (Quite frankly, I hope the heirs of the family come back and get a judgement seizing the water plant.)
I don’t know if it’s a sin, but it goes against the rules of “value added”.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
My guess the issue, longstanding, will be resolved. At least in the short term. I don't really have an opinion on who should pay for water in Israel, local issue, but only a moron would turn off the faucet.