Heads of Churches Visit Al-Aqsa Mosque and Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem

Christian and Islamic leaders in Jerusalem pose for a group photo in front of the Dome of the Rock.
The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem visited the Grand Mufti and the Islamic Waqf to show solidarity between the two religions and to endorse the historic Status Quo of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

JERUSALEM – On November 10th, 2014, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem visited Sheikh Abed Al-Atheem, Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Azam Abed Alkhatib Altamimi, Head of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem to show their support for the historical Status Quo and a show of solidarity between the two faiths. The Heads of Churches included His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox Church, and His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal of the Latin Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Nourhan Manougian of the Armenian Church, His Grace Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, as well as representatives from the Coptic and Anglican churches.

Tensions have mounted in recent days due to a perceived possibility to a change in the Status Quo as well as the shooting of a right-wing rabbi who was pushing for a change in the historical Status Quo involving the Haram Esh-Sharif.

“Holy places must not become political. Some are trying to make the political conflict into a religious war where we will all be losers, except for the extremists,” said Bishop Munib Younan.

Under the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, Jordan has custodianship of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Nearly two years ago, President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding that Jordan, through the King, is custodian of the Holy Sites.

Bishop Younan spoke out against any changes to the historical Status Quo: “In Jerusalem, it is very important to keep both the historic Status Quo, freedom of religion, and access to Holy Places.”