The Washington Post

Priests brawl in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

At one of oldest churches in the world, built over the cave that tradition marks as the place Jesus was born, Franciscan, Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests have brawled annually around Christmas Day for more than a century.

This year was no different.

Palestinian police officers intervene in a fight that erupted between Greek Orthodox deacons and Armenian priests during the cleaning of the church in 2007. (Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God,” Bethlehem police Lt. Col. Khaled al-Tamimi told Reuters. Tamimi called the incident “a trivial problem that . . . occurs every year.”

In past years, the priests have brawled over who owns which altars, passageways and chandeliers, and how to do repairs, according to news accounts. In 2010, the fight broke out while priests were trying to repair the church’s rotting, collapsing roof:

In 2008, the fight took place next to the purported site of Jesus’s tomb and landed two clergymen in jail:

Watch the video of this year’s melee here.

More world news coverage:

- Kim Jong Eun leads funeral for father

- Religious limits on women spur controversy in Israel

- Metal thieves ravage Britain’s infrastructure

- Reaed more headlines from around the world


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