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Franciscan Friary
St. Francis Str. 1

The Custody
is present in:
Israel / Palestine

Buenos Aires

in various
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The feast of St Catherine in Bethlehem


Let's get the facts!!

The Jerusalem Post is proud that it is the best source of information from Israel at least during these last 70 years. That is what we are told in its November 25, 2002 issue.

Now go to page 2 and you will find some interesting news about the IDF netting 31 fugitives in its Bethlehem raids. In the middle of this news story the Post does not lose the opportunity to point out that there was some sort of coordination between the Civil Administration and the Christian leaders in the city. Moreover, and I quote, "the head of the Franciscan order Kostos Giovanni Batastini was allowed to enter the city in order to prepare for the religious services marking the Santa Katarina ceremonies that began on Sunday."

And then it goes on to say: "The army allowed local worshipers to attend Sunday services at the Church of the Nativity despite the curfew imposed on the city."

Now let us look at the facts:The Post in the same article gave us a load of arabic names of some of the fugitives who were apprehended. We presume they got them right. But not the name of the Custos of the Holy Land. Most probably because he is not on the wanted list! We have no Kostos Giovanni Batastini but we do have the Custos whose name is Giovanni Battistelli OFM. So much for the best source of information from Israel!

And what about the worshipers: there were about twenty people in the empty church of St. Catherine (not the Church of the Nativity), mostly religious sisters who managed somehow to evade the curfew. All the rest of those who usually come to church on Sundays were not allowed to attend BECAUSE of the curfew. These are the facts.

Some more misinformation: the Post says the Kostos was preparing for the religious services marking the Santa Katarina ceremonies that began on Sunday. What the Custos was doing was celebrating the Feast of St Catherine of Alexandria, who is the patron saint of the Franciscan Parish in Bethlehem which lies adjacent to the Basilica of the Nativity, and all this in preparation for the coming festivities of Christmas, which, just in case the Post does not know, is celebrated on the 25th of December.

So, what do we conclude. The Custody of the Holy Land has been around in Israel and all the Middle East these last 750 years, and still Israel's best source of information, The Jerusalem Post, does not know what it is talking about.

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Created / Updated Monday, November 25, 2002 at 14:07:14 by John Abela ofm
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