“And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for o”ut of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (Mt. 2,6)
If the place of Jesus birth was an essentially Christian city since 1948, beginning from today Bethlehem is undergoing a significant change because of the immigration of many Muslims from the city of Hebron towards the Bethlehem’s refugee camps. Today only 12.000 Christians live in Bethlehem compared to the 35.000 Muslims. The last century witnessed a slow but constant migration of Christian people from Bethlehem to Europe and America, bringing the most of the houses to be acquired by the new Muslim citizens.
Because of this, from several years the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land already care to find a house for the Christians of Bethlehem, thanks to ATS pro Terra Sancta’s support, within the project named “Stones of Memory“. In particular, the Custody of the Holy Land directly bought six houses and 27 others were bought through the Società Antoniana of Bethlehem, a social body linked to Bethlehem’s Franciscan Parish.
However, all of this is not sufficient. There are still too many Christians who decide to leave their homeland, especially young people who can’t see any future in their city. “Stones of Memory” project also plans to find new job opportunities for the local population, particularly for the unemployed, as well as vocational and human training of the young with training courses and partnerships with qualified and experienced staff.