Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fighting over the Holy Sepulcher


Just about everybody has heard of the Crusades, the greatest conflict over the site of Christ's burial and resurrection, known as the Holy Sepulcher. Not so many know that disputes over the site have continued right up until the present day. The Crimean War, not so long ago as early historians calculate things, was sparked by a spat over jurisdiction of the shrine between Russia, France, and the Ottoman Empire. Lots of people died in that one and nobody even remembers what it was about.

Back in crusading days, the bad guys in regards to this issue, if you asked any Christian, were the Muslims or, as they were charmingly called back then, infidels. The more recent flareups, including the one that ended in Sevastopol, have been entirely between Christians.

And they are at it again! I did not know until I heard this story, but there is an entire monastery on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And it is in such bad repair that it may at any moment fall through the roof and destroy the entire church. And there is a big argument between the Coptic clergy and the Ethiopian clergy and the church about who rightfully controls the monastery, and until that is sorted out -- a dispute that goes back at least until 1970 -- nothing will be done.

The story in all its details, or as many as most people can stand, is here at the Times Online site.

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