Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christian Clergy Clash on Christmas

The Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, where Jesus Christ was supposed to have been born. A holy site managed by priests from the Armenian Orthodox Church; the Eastern Orthodox (Greek/Russian) and the Catholic Church. A place where, predictably, on every high holy day there is conflict - among the clergy themselves. That's right. The ordained in pitched battle on the hallowed grounds where the Christian savior was born. Quite an image that. And a regular occurance. This time, it happened on Christmas and four were injured.

To review, the relationships between the sects charged with managing the site are so strained and bitter, every square inch of the place has been measured and marked-out as the turf of one sect or another. Cross the line, get you lights punched out. Then, of course, there are the differing calendars and dates that must be accomodated - often with rancor. Even cleaning the floor has been known to spark mini-riots. Such gracious and dignified behavior. OMG. Read the BBC report here.

But of course, we shouldn't be surprised. So many have died, often tortured and desecrated, in the name of one Christian sect or another. My own ancestors, the Celts, were famous for their internecine feuds. And the recent Irish troubles, pitting Protestants against Catholics, took almost half a century to settle. Then there's the Balkan conflicts. Don't get me started. Sometimes it seems to me that virtually all conflict has a least a few religious roots.

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