Historic church in row over Calvary water bill | Reuters
(Reuters) – Jesus may have walked on water and turned it into wine but the hefty water bill for one of the holiest sites of Christendom is proving a headache for the church.
This week the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which has extensive and valuable property holdings in the Holy Land and maintains a headquarters in the ancient church, had its bank account frozen, said an official at water company Hagihon.
A report in Israeli newspaper Maariv on Friday said the Patriarchate was threatening to shut the doors of the church, which is a major pilgrimage site for millions of tourists.
A church was first built there in the 4th century under Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, whose mother, Queen Helena, had visited the site and identified it as the place of Jesus’ resurrection.
The General Secretary of the Patriarchate, Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, had no comment on the Maariv report. He said the church was willing to pay water bills from now on, but that the accumulated debt, stemming back years, would be problematic.