Jerusalem remains a city sacred to three great Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yet, Christians are a distinct minority, perhaps counting as little as 2 percent of the population. The best estimates describe most of the population — about 62 percent — as Jewish and 35 percent Muslim.
The Christian population has been dwindling for decades. A report in 2009 noted that many of the younger generation of Christians born in Jerusalem had left the country, emigrating abroad to the United States, Canada and South America. A significant number of those Christians remaining are priests, nuns and religious, many of them students.
A 2016 report by the Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., the Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, pointed to several of the challenges Christians face in Israel — and how this is impacting Jerusalem in particular. He stated:
“A major issue facing Christian Arabs in Israel is emigration from their homeland. This trend, which began in the 19th century, is one of the most important threats to the Christian communities in the Middle East today. There is a serious brain drain in the community in Israel as the young, the educated and the professionals do indeed emigrate, leaving behind a more and more impoverished community. Christians also have smaller families than both Muslims and Jews. The result is that despite an overall slight increase in the number of Christians from year to year, there is a significant decrease in their proportion in the overall population.”