Christians in Holy Land, Mideast celebrate Easter


Associated Press

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 31 at 2:04 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Catholics and Protestants have gathered in churches around the world to celebrate this Easter Sunday -- including churches in the Middle East, where some Christians feel isolated from their Muslim-majority societies.

At a church in Baghdad, some 200 worshippers attended an Easter mass behind concrete blast walls and a tight security cordon. Churches in Iraq have been under tighter security since an attack in 2010 killed dozens of people.

Some worshippers there expressed hope in their new spiritual leader. One woman said, "We hope Pope Francis will help make it better for Christians in Iraq."

In Jerusalem, Catholics worshipped in the church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on a hill where tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, briefly entombed and then resurrected. Protestants held Easter ceremonies outside Jerusalem's walled Old City at the Garden Tomb, an area that some identify as the site of Jesus' burial.

Christian populations are believed to be shrinking or at least growing more slowly than their Muslim compatriots in much of the Middle East.

%@AP Links

123-r-04-(Sound of choir singing during Sunday Easter Mass in Jerusalem, at the Holy Sepulcher Church)--Sound of choir singing as thousands of faithful attend Sunday Easter Mass at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. ((note cut length)) (31 Mar 2013)

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122-a-15-(Kamila Banasz (kah-MEE'-lah BAH'-nash), tourist guide from Poland, in AP interview)-"resurrected last night"-Tourist guide from Poland Kamila Banasz says it's a wonderful experience to attend Easter Sunday Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. (31 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *122 (03/31/13)>> 00:15 "resurrected last night"

GRAPHICSBANK: Worshipper touches a crucifix during EASTER mass, on texture with lettering, finished graphic (31 Mar 2013)

APPHOTO SEB103: Nuns walk during the Sunday Easter mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, March 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) (29 Mar 2013)

<<APPHOTO SEB103 (03/29/13)>>