The alarm is launched by Catholic priest Rami Asakrieh, of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, parish priest in Bethlehem of the church of Santa Caterina, near the Basilica of the Nativity. “My parish”, Father Rami reports to Agenzia Fides “is facing serious problems. The number of Catholic families in Bethlehem is shrinking. Now our parish has only 1,479 Palestinian families. Christians make up 17% of the city’s population, while in the past they were 90%”. The vertiginous decline of the Christian presence in Bethlehem – adds Father Rami – is linked above all to the exodus of young Christians who emigrate to other Countries. “We”, reports the Franciscan parish priest, “try to stop emigration, trying to provide help in many situations of need”. But the current political and economic situation of the town, surrounded by settlements of Israeli settlers, sees the number of cases of “unemployed faithful, who are depressed and drowned in debts multiplying”. “None of our parish faithful receive a single cent from these organizations”, concludes Fr. Rami.