Church of the Holy Sepulcher closed until further notice

Ecumenical leaders announce the closing of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

For the first time in over a century the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is closed till further notice. The Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian, and the Roman Catholic Custos, Francesco Patton, took the rare step to protest ongoing Israeli actions and proposed laws. Already, the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, along with other institutions including the UN, have had their bank accounts frozen by the Israeli government. The Anglican diocese is a key provider of humanitarian assistance in Palestinian East Jerusalem and territories running numerous hospitals and schools.

Under international law and numerous United Nations resolutions, Israel does not own Jerusalem. Some religious and political observers have seen this increased pressure against Christians since December as a direct result of the American government’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as Israel seeks to further push the boundaries of the antique status quo in Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Statement released during the closing of the Holy Sepulcher.

Christian leaders in Jerusalem have called the movement against Christians dire, noting that, “The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians now reaches its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land is being promoted. This abhorrent bill is set to advance today in a meeting of a ministerial committee which if approved would make the expropriation of the lands of churches possible. This reminds us all of the laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe.”

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem in this season of reconciliation.


  1. James, does an Anglican Church share custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? I know the church is primarily shared between the Catholic Church and various Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, but I was unaware if any Protestants have an official presence there.

    This is very sad news. Without getting into politics, it’s a shame that Christian communities in the Holy Land have become fodder in these unfortunate political and cultural battles, especially since most have gone to great lengths to avoid them. Let’s pray for swift end to this needless dispute and that peace may once more reign in the birthplace of our faith.

  2. No. Though there is an Anglican and Lutheran presence in Jerusalem, they do not share custody. When they are in the Holy Sepulchre, especially during official events, it tends to be through arrangements with the RC Custos.

  3. For some general background on the Status Quo that governs the joint administration of the basilica:

    This doesn’t govern everything – the Islamic family that has custody of the keys to the place has had it since…Saladin provided so in the late 12th century.

    It’s always a remarkable event when there is joint action among those within the Status Quo.

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