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The Third Christmas since Bush and Blair
were banned from the Birthplace of Jesus Christ

We recall to our readers that at the beginning of April 2003, the height of the military campaign directed against Iraq, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, banned the US President George Bush, his then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, from visiting the sacred place, one of the holiest Christian shrines. The authorities declared: 'They are war criminals and murderers of children. Therefore the Church of Nativity has decided to ban them access to the holy shrine for ever'.

The move came in protest at 'the aggressive war these leaders have waged against Iraq', as senior clergy of the Church said. The parish priest, Fr Pancratius, made the decision public at a massive protest demonstration organized by Orthodox institutions in front of the Church of Nativity in April 2003. Fr Pancratius repeated that Bush, Rumsfeld, Blair and Straw are 'war criminals and child-killers, who will be banned from entering the church forever'.

On Tuesday 1 April 2003, the representative of the Orthodox community in Amman in the Jordan, Fr Constantine Karmash, said that he fully supported the Church of the Nativity's decision to ban the Western leaders from entering the house of worship. 'The priest at the Church of the Nativity has every right to ban Bush and his supporters, since they have marred the teachings of Christ. Their entry into the church will tarnish it, as [Bush's] hands are covered in the blood of the innocent', said Fr Constantine to The Jordan Times.

He went on to say that he felt the punishment was not enough. 'We need a tougher punishment to eradicate the evil at its very root', he exclaimed. 'Bush and his supporters are not members of the Orthodox Church', said Fr Constantine, 'hence they cannot be subjected to an official Church ban. We hope that their respective Churches, which condemn the current war, will strip Bush and his supporters of their Church rights, so that they be ostracized from their Churches, as they have been ostracized by the humanitarian and international community', said the priest.

Fr Andrew

The 14,000 Infants Slain by Herod at Bethlehem
29 December 2006/11 January 2007

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