The Sacred Heart Catholic church in St Ives has cancelled its annual ‘Live Crib’ event in protest against the Israeli wall being built around the holy city of Bethlehem. In place of crib, there will be erected a life-size replica portion of the Israeli concrete blockade that is causing untold suffering to the ordinary citizens of the city. The wall will stand as a symbol of the plight of these ‘abandoned’ people.
In addition, large protest banners and stark photographs will stand alongside the ‘wall’ to show passers-by how desperate and ugly the situation is in the Holy Land.
Father Paul, who is a friend of Bethlehem University and a frequent visitor, is confident that the people of St Ives will want to express their support for the people of the Holy Land at Christmas. “The lives of the ordinary citizens of Bethlehem have been devastated by the building of the wall. It affects every aspect of their lives; friends and family are separated, earning a living becomes more and more difficult, access to health care is severely restricted all in the town of Bethlehem that we sing about at this time of the year. If we can provide them with a few extra basic provisions and give them a little financial support, we can help make their lives more bearable.”
This is not the first time the Church of the Sacred Heart in St Ives expresses its commitment to the Palestinian people. In 2003 the Church of the Sacred Heart twinned with the Catholic parish in Aboud Village on the West Bank. Father Maddison, along with groups from St Ives and other places in East Anglia, has made regular visits to take donations and lend support to the Aboud villagers, who are Christians and Muslims. He has seen first-hand the suffering and increasingly worsening plight of the families who live there.
This year, the Church of the Sacred Heart will allocate all the donations and offerings it receives from its friends and supporters, to the different organisations and institutions in the city of Bethlehem.