By Michele Chabin
Religion News Service
JERUSALEM (RNS) The Catholic Church's highest official in the Holy Land sharply criticized Israeli authorities for permitting a gay pride march on Thursday (July 29) through the streets of Jerusalem.
In a statement issued Friday following the city's 8th Annual Gay Pride Parade, which attracted 3,000 marchers, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal said the event seeks to "defy family and marriage."
Twal said the parade, "its organizers and the authorities who allow it, care neither for the feelings of families nor the holiness of this city."
The patriarch said homosexuals can "have their parade wherever they want," as long as it is not in Jerusalem, a city considered holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews.
"Leave Jerusalem to her pilgrims and faithful," Twal urged. "This city has suffered enough wounds and humiliation."
Twal accused Israeli government officials of barring "millions of Arab believers, including inhabitants of the areas of the Palestinian Authority," from making pilgrimages to the city for 'security reasons' whereas such a parade is permitted."
Although Israel permits thousands of Muslim tourists--including many with no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state--to enter, officials limit the number of Palestinians to prevent the kinds of terror attacks that shook Jerusalem during Palestinian uprisings.
Twal said his views were shared by many Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze leaders "based upon our responsibility for guarding the holiness and sanctity of this city.
"Expressing our profound respect for each human being, we proclaim the truth of the Ten Commandments, which are the basis of happiness according to the Lord's word: `If you wish to enter into eternal life, keep the commandments.'"
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