.- In an article published Tuesday, Vatican observer Sandro Magister points out a relatively unknown but very important phenomenon for the survival of Christianity in the Holy Land: the arrival of the “invisible” Christians. Magister writes in his weekly column for L’Espresso that according to statistics, the number of Christians belonging to the traditional communities of the Holy Land has been diminishing.
Nevertheless, Magister observes that one Italian expert on religious issues reports that there are a significant number of Christians not included in the statistics and that “if they were counted, they would revolutionize” the Christian community in Palestine.
According to Elisa Pinna, quoted by Magister, the “invisible Christians” are of Jewish origin. The majority of them arrived with the massive Jewish immigrations from Russia and the Ukraine which, between 1989 and 1993 brought more than one million people to Israel.
A study carried out in 1999 showed that of the 86,000 immigrants questioned, 53% could not be considered Hebrew before the law.
Orthodox and Christian leaders have noted that the number of non-registered Christians who arrived in the last wave of immigration could be 400,000 despite efforts at assimilation by the Israeli government.
The Christian community has responded with a “re-evangelization” campaign. The Catholic Church has sent 10 Russian and Ukrainian speaking priests to work in the area.
The article by Magister, which also includes a “who’s who” of the Christians in the Holy Land, be found at: www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y