Christian (dis)unity before the world
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." Jesus, in John 17:20
From US News, Nov 26, 2007, pg 48.
The church of the holy sepulcher in Jerusalem is the spot many believe Jesus was crucified.
"Today it is divvied up into territories and ritual duties by six resident Christian groups: Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syrian Orthodox, (Egyptian) Coptic Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox. Their places are precisely delineated under rules that were set down in 1852 by Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Majid, who tired of sending his troops to break up sectarian fights over control and practices. 'The sultan was sending troops in here all the time, so he finally said, 'You're going to do this and you're going to do that,'' explains [a Franciscan monk]....
"The keys to the church are held by Muslims, as they have been since the year 638, when Caliph Omar, then the city's ruler, appointed the local Nusseibeh family as doorkeepers... Since his father died 25 years ago, Wajeeh Nusseibeh has been faithfully unlocking the church at 4 a.m. and locking it at 8 p.m....
"He doesn't actually have custody of the keys. That duty, or privilege, was granted in 1192 by the conqueror Saladin to the local Joudeh family. And since then, a Joudeh has been bringin a Nusseibeh the keys each morning and evening."
The Jewish police also need to be present, because an altercation could go international, and Israel would be blamed. The article recounts a 2004 fight between Franciscans and Greek Orthodox that left bloody noses behind, and a 2002 incident where "scores of police were required to break up the resulting brawl."
Amazing how one of Christianity's most holy sites must be mediated by one outside the Church, when Jesus is our one mediator. What a sad witness.