The meeting between Israel's two chief rabbis and the Pope has now taken place. They urged him to speak out against the recent destruction of synagogues in Gaza Strip, and other forms of anti-Semitism. They warned that the desecration of churches and other holy places could follow unless a strong stand is taken.
"The Second World War started with burning of synagogues; then the crematoriums, burning people," Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger said.
"We are fearful the same terrorism of desecrating synagogues ... will spill over into other parts of the world," he said, noting that churches and mosques could be targeted.
There has been little response from the world at large to the destruction of the synagogues by hate-filled Palestinians. This act should have provoked outrage because it was wrong, and not just because Muslim extremists could extend their destruction to other religious buildings. Compare the indifference of the Churches to this vandalism with the squeals of indignation when Palestinian terrorist thugs invaded the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem - the anger being directed not at the criminals - the Muslim terrorists - but at the Jews.
The pope said he would try to respond "in a positive way" to the rabbis' requests, and I hope he will support the following suggestion.
Metzger and Sephardic chief rabbi Shlomo Amar also asked the Pope to urge priests, bishops and cardinals around the world to set aside one day of the year to preach the teachings of a landmark Vatican document on relations with Jews that deplored all forms of anti-Semitism.
Nostra Aetate was a revolutionary document in the history of the Church, marking the beginning of a reversal of previous prejudiced teaching - but it was only a beginning. A two thousand year old attitude is not changed overnight, and frequent reminders and development are required to carry it forward.
Tomorrow, Israel's two chief rabbis meet with Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate the 40th anniversary of
Nostra Aetate, the Vatican document which marked the start of a change in the Catholic Church's relationship with Jews. It seems likely they will seek his support in the fight against anti-Semitism and terrorism.
The rabbis would likely speak to the pope of the need for further dissemination and understanding of the landmark "Nostra Aetate" document adopted by the Second Vatican Council in 1965, [Ambassador] Ben-Hur said.
In the document, Latin for "In Our Time," the Vatican deplored anti-Semitism in every form and repudiated the "deicide" charge that blamed Jews as a people for Christ's death. The idea of Jewish guilt had fueled anti-Semitism for centuries.
Ben-Hur said the document needed to be further understood, not only among the ranks of lay people but even among ordinary priests.
Having seen the way some Protestant Churches moved from a position of improving relations with Jews to one of anti-Semitism in their attacks on the Jewish state, the Catholic Church cannot afford to be complacent, and must be careful not to go down the same path as, for instance, the Anglicans. There are individuals within the Church, some in influential positions, who have never relinquished their personal prejudice, and would gladly reverse the present situation back to one of traditional anti-Semitism. Thanks to the leadership of Popes like John XXIII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, with the support of those who love the Jews, the Church has continued to develop along the path of friendship and just attitudes towards their 'older brothers'. Even the unfriendly and probably anti-Semitic Pope Paul VI failed to stop this development.
Israel needs the Vatican's support at "this very dire hour" now that it has completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Ambassador Oded Ben-Hur said
"We're looking for common grounds, we're looking for common declarations," he said. "And true, while the church doesn't have teeth, it can definitely influence" people through its declarations.
The Lutherans are the latest of the Protestant Churches to send a lot of hot air in the direction of the Israeli ‘wall’ in the hope that it will fall over.
The overseeing council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has reiterated its call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and has affirmed the implementation of a roadmap for peace as crucial to establishing a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, with a shared city of Jerusalem.
A shared city of Jerusalem? Of course, that ‘wall’ is the source of all evil, and until it is demolished, there can be no peace, joy, love, happiness, caring, sharing – especially of Jerusalem.
In a public statement adopted yesterday at the end of its week-long meeting in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the LWF council said that many of its members had encountered “the [Israeli] separation wall and found shocking its impact on the daily lives of Palestinians.”
There is the usual list of whinges about how the ‘wall’ forces children to get more exercise by taking a little longer to walk to school, how it prevents some Christian Arabs from getting to church services, and other inconveniences. There is no reference to the reason for the defence barrier, or the need for Palestinians to give up terrorism. Lives of Israelis are evidently of less importance to Lutherans than minor inconveniences suffered by Palestinians.
Referring to the opening worship sermon by ELCJHL Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, the Lutheran World Federation council members said: “Healing must begin with truth-telling and with breaking the silence that hides the suffering of those who are vulnerable and violated.”
They then fail to tell the truth and break the self-imposed silence about Muslim persecution of Christian Arabs, driving them away, and pretend that the dwindling numbers is the fault of “increasing constraints on Palestinians” – in other words, the Jews, daring to try and defend themselves.
Pope Benedict XVI has named a coadjutor bishop to the Latin-rite patriarchate of Jerusalem. A coadjutor is an assistant bishop who will eventually take over his boss's job when his boss retires.
The Holy Father has named a seasoned Church diplomat, Bishop Fouad Twal, to be coadjutor and eventual successor to Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Bishop Sabbah is not due to retire until 2008, when he reaches the canonical retirement age of 75. So why is a coadjutor being appointed three years early?
Archbishop Sabbah, a native of Nazareth, was named as Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1987. He was the first Palestinian to hold that office, succeeding eight Italian prelates. At the age of 72, he is still well short of the regular retirement age of 75. The appointment of a seasoned diplomat as coadjutor suggests that the Vatican is anxious to have a stabilizing presence in Jerusalem, where Patriarch Sabbah has frequently been the focal point of controversy
The new Bishop says that he
will devote himself to the cause of peace in the Holy Land. Unlike Sabbah, who devotes himself to excusing terrorism in the Holy Land, and doing his best to reverse the post-Vatican II movement of the Church away from anti-Semitism.
The Judeo-Christian Alliance has issued a statement condemning the silence of Protestant Church Leaders in the face of Palestinian Muslim treatment of their Christian neighbours.
Protestant leaders in the U.S. are silent again. After years of blaming Israel for the suffering of Christians in the disputed territories, leaders of mainline Protestant churches are keeping mum about the Muslim riot in Taybeh that destroyed the homes of 14 Christian families on Sunday, Sept. 4. The riot is part of a long string of attacks on Christians in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority that have been ignored by Protestant leaders in the U.S.
Dexter Van Zile is the director of the Judeo-Christian Alliance, which is an initiative of the David Project.
“The PA has failed to protect the rights of its Christian minority from Muslim oppression for years. Mainline Protestant leaders in the U.S. have said nothing,” he says.
A growing number of mainline Protestant denominations have approved resolutions that blame Israel for the suffering in the disputed territories, but they have said nothing about the role Muslim extremists have played in making life unsafe in the disputed territories, said JCA president Dennis Hale.
“Mainline Protestants in the United States will be shocked to learn that Muslims are attacking Christians on the West Bank. Their leaders assert Palestinian Christians are being oppressed by Israel. The riot is proof the mainline Protestant story about the Middle East is full of holes,” Hale said. “Mainline churches are getting their information from Palestinian Christians who must remain silent about their Muslim tormentors in order to stay alive. They are rewarded for their dishonesty by anti-Israel activists in the US. The true story of the Palestinian Christians is almost completely unknown among the mainline denominations.”
And we know what underlying prejudice drives these lop-sided condemnations of Israel, don't we?
“It’s disturbing. Until denominational leaders condemn Muslim violence against Christians and Jews with the same force they condemn Israel, their motives will be suspect, with good reason.”