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Someone helpfully tells the Archbishop of Westminster the truth about Bethlehem.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, unquestioningly accepted and repeated the lies about Bethlehem which have become as much of a Christian tradition at Christmas as carols, cribs and lights on conifer trees: "Cardinal issues midnight SOS for Bethlehem."
He said Bethlehem was “corralled” and “blocked in” and its economy in shreds as result of Israeli security measures in response to terrorist violence. Speaking at his Midnight Mass homily at Westminster Cathedral just hours before leaving for Sri Lanka, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor described the people of the town as “terribly alone”, and urged Christians to visit there.
Not everyone who reads this nonsense believes it, and a friend of Anglicans for Israel has written to the Cardinal to put him right: Some facts, Archbishop…
If you had cared to check your facts before making such emotive comments, designed to be heard by a wide audience, you would have found that the reality was very different.
The security fence does not encircle Bethlehem, and was only erected to try and counter the wave of suicide bombings, though two successful attacks have occurred since the so-called cease fire.
In 2004 there were 100,000 visits which increased to 252,000 in 2005. Export of textiles has risen by 50%, stone and marble by 40%, and commercial transportation by 20%.
The writer recognises the prejudice which underlies such falsehoods, and suggests that the Cardinal follow the example of Pope John Paul II.
Sadly, the Catholic Church has a history of anti-Semitism, and your unfounded comments do not help. You would do well to follow the lead of the late, great, Pope John Paul, and visit Israel, and the Western Wall in Jersusalem.
It is custom to place a prayer in a crevice, and when he visited in April 2002, Pope John Paul wrote this prayer: ‘In asking for your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.’
I hope the Cardinal will read the letter carefully and take the writer’s advice. It is worth recalling, however, that in 1998, when Israel was celebrating its hard–won Fiftieth Anniversary, the Cardinal’s Cathedral in Westminster did not join in the celebration. Instead it hosted a nasty anti-Israel service of commemoration of what Palestinians call “al Nakba” – The Disaster. In other words, the disaster of the coming into being of a Jewish State, a haven where Jews might bear arms and defend themselves from attack by those who hate them. Bad news for anti-Semites, of course, and the Cathedral administration, which hosted this event, evidently felt it was bad news, too.
Additional note (lest there be misunderstanding) the Israel-hate-fest at Westminster Cathedral was organised before Murphy-O'Connor took over, and was the responsibility of the creeps running the Cathedral at the time. Murphy-O'Connor was still Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, where he discredited himself by covering up allegations of clergy child abuse - but that's another story. As to whether or not he is anti-Semitic and in tune with the organisers of the 'Nakba' service, his Christmas message suggests that he is. It will be interesting to see how he responds to this letter from the clear-sighted Anglican.