RTT News
Dec 29 2011

Rival Clerics Clash At Bethlehem's Church Of The Nativity

RTTNews) - Rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics clashed
with each other at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity using
broomsticks on Wednesday, leaving dozens of tourists bemused.

The clashes broke out as rival groups were cleaning the church in
preparation for the Orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 7. The
exchange was reportedly triggered after a a Greek Orthodox priest
encroached on the territory of the other group.

The fighting was halted after Palestinian policemen at the scene
intervened and separated the quarreling priests using batons and
shields. No one was either injured or arrested as a result of the
brawl. The rival sections resumed their cleaning activities after the
brawl ended.

The Church of the Nativity, located in the West Bank town of
Bethlehem, built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have
been born. The Greek Orthodox and Armenian clergy share the
administration of the church.

Such clashes between rival clergy members are common during joint
religious or cleaning ceremonies at the Church of the Nativity. At
least seven people were injured after similar clashes broke out
between the rival clergy groups during a post-Christmas cleaning
ceremony in 2007.

Just like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem--built on the site where Jesus is believed
to have been crucified-- is shared by various branches of
Christianity, with each group guarding their part of the church with

by RTT Staff Writer