He noted that the parish also cares for adherents of other religions: "The Christian community is very small and there are 2 million Muslims. They are also in great need. We have always opened the doors of our schools or our church during times of war to take in those seeking refuge."
"There is not a very great persecution of Christians," the priest said. "Though there is now a lot of fear with the news that the Islamic State has arrived, coming from the Sinai Peninsula, in Egypt … There have already been threats. There is also fear of the Salafist groups who are coming in from the south," he said.
"In fact, when we have problems with Muslims who want to do something against the church, we've asked the government to protect us and they have done so," he added.
The joy of Easter was tinged this year by a decrease in the permits given by Israel for Palestinian Christians to visit holy places in its territory, Fr. da Silva said.
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"It was also very sad because Israel always gives permission for Christians so they can visit the holy places for Christmas and Easter," but this year they only gave 300 permits instead of the 700 they usually grant. These permits were "for children and the elderly, who are really the people who can't go out by themselves. Very few people actually went," he lamented.
Nevertheless, "there was joy because Christ has risen and because our salvation comes from that, which is much more important than our material life; but on the human level it was a very sad Easter," he said.
"Pray much for this, which is what we mainly ask for, because only God can change the situation we're going through in these countries here in the Middle East," he concluded.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.