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Church Group Remains Silent on Jerusalem Internationalization Issue

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The World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, is carefully avoiding any commitment on the future of Jerusalem, according to reports to American churchmen. The Council has not taken sides in the questions arising from Pope Paul’s proposal to internationalize the holy places. The Council is seeking to avoid taking part in the controversies resulting from the merger of Israeli and Arab Jerusalem.

The Rev. Eugene Carson Blake, general secretary of the Council, does not feel “Christendom is in a position to demand things from either Moslems or Israel with regard to Jerusalem,” although he believes that “proper access to the holy places should be taken for granted.” The Council depicts as more urgent the preservation of the cease-fire, help to the refugees, and a long-term peace settlement.

A main reason for avoiding the shrine issue is that the 223 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, and Old Catholic denominations within the Council differ on the Jerusalem matter. A non-committal statement is expected to emerge next month when the Council’s central committee meets in Crete.

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