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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Middle East synod: What happened?

I discussed the recently-concluded Middle East synod once before here.

Writing in the JPost, Lisa Palmieri-Billig says that 'politics' found their way into the synod.
The difficulties and dangers encountered by Christian minorities living under Islamic law and above all, the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, occupied major space on the sidelines through press conferences and panel discussions organized within and outside the Vatican.

The absence of human rights and liberties, and the persecution and murder of Christians in Muslim countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and the exodus of over 2 million Iraqi Christian refugees, now reduced to poverty and economic slavery in countries like Lebanon, were amply discussed and identified as the major causes for the Christian exodus from the region.

However, in the final message and list of proposals, as well as in the pope’s message itself, there remain only generic allusions to these grievances. References are made to “the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media.”

Gone is the repeated call, in synod discussions, for a separation between religion and state, “a secular state” and “civic society.” Evidently caution and fear of reprisals on Christian minorities prevailed.

While during the synod, discussions on the Israeli “occupation” were mostly conducted after hours in private halls or with journalists looking for news, the synod’s final documents give ample space to one-sided condemnations of that “occupation.”

Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s director for interreligious affairs, who delivered a keynote speech on October 13 as the synod’s special Jewish guest, had this to say: “I regret that the bishops in their closing statement do not have the courage to confront the most serious challenges confronting Christians in the Middle East. Even if the State of Israel didn’t exist, the depleting of the Christian presence would not be any different. To make the Palestinian- Israeli conflict the No. 1 issue is disingenuous.”
Yes, it's disingenuous. But the fix was in on the synod last January, and no one should be surprised by the conference's results. And it was the Vatican itself - and not the Bishops - who ensured that the synod would slam Israel, by issuing a document in preparation for the synod that blamed the Jews for Christian flight from the Middle East.
Asked at a news conference if the document was referring specifically to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and construction in East Jerusalem, Eterovic said the Vatican wasn't making policy decisions or recommendations in the document.

But he noted that the paper was drafted by the bishops of the region, who know the situation well and that regardless the Vatican adheres to UN Security Council resolutions on the matter.
In other words, the Bishops - who for reasons discussed below are anti-Israel - wrote whatever they wanted and the Vatican put a rubber stamp on it.

Robert Spencer points out that the Christian Arabs would have been much better off allying themselves with the Jews.
The Christian Arabs would have been much better off allying with their fellow dhimmis, the Jews. And indeed, only in Israel, alone among Middle Eastern countries, has the Christian population grown since 1948. As this report notes: "Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said it was absurd that the Jewish state had been condemned since Israel is the only country in the region where Christians are actually thriving. According to statistics he provided, there were some 151,700 Christians in Israel last year, compared with 132,000 in 1999 and 107,000 two decades ago."

Yet the bishops in their synod this week single out only Israel for particular criticism, and was relatively silent about the jihad doctrine, the Arab states' support for it, and its cardinal role in sabotaging any peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. It is shameful, and indeed, makes me ashamed today to be a Melkite Greek Catholic.
And so, all Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon can do is regret the synod's comments.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon commented on a statement issued by the Synod of Bishops of the Middle East, which called the international community to "end the Israeli occupation," saying that "Israel regretted the comments."

"It seems that the important synod has turned into a forum for political assaults on Israel with the very best Arab propaganda. The synod has been taken captive by an anti-Israeli majority," said Ayalon, adding that "the language used by some of the archbishops is particularly appalling."
I leave it to my Christian readers to figure out whether the Catholic Church is just doctrinally unable to accept the concept of a Jewish state in Israel. But it sure sounds that way.


At 4:43 PM, Blogger Akiva said...

You missed a point here. Generally Vatican relations with Israel are tricky. They have a lot of what they call historic property in Israel - some of which Israel recognizes and some which it doesn't.

Pissing off Israel is generally bad for them as Israel then becomes less flexible on their property matters.

So for them to do this indicates they really feel that playing up to the PA is more important than not pissing off Israel...meaning they strongly believe Jerusalem is going to be divided SOON.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Catholic theology has not changed.

The Church cannot accept a Jewish State as doctrinally legitimate any more than Islam can.

For all their differences, Christians and Muslims are both united by a common revulsion to the rise of Jewish power in Israel.

And this would explain a lot behind Christian Europe and the Arab World's approach towards Israel.

No one, least of all the Jews, should have been surprised that nothing has really changed.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl.
In my opinion the Catholic Church in all it's "Wisdom" recognizes the Islamic power not only in the Middle East but also in the West and in the America's growing,advocated by Obama.In it's infinite "Wisdom" it seems to have decided to side with Islam against the Jews ,while hoping to get some "Favours" from the Islamic block.Feeding the "Crocodile" is never a guaranty of not being eaten in the end.Somehow history repeats itself and we have gone full circle.The old enemy is reinstated in glory.God gave us Ten Commandments and even with these the Church seems to be having problems to follow.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

NormanF's last comment was the 30,000th comment made on this blog according to Blogspot.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Emil said...

NormanF, I view that totalitarian comment as plain racist.

That the Catholic Church thinks something does not automatically equate it with 1 billion or so Catholics.

The church is deeply misguided, it's as simple as that. They're appeasers, but what some Christian Arab bishops say is not representative of us others.

At 1:59 AM, Blogger tuleesh said...

No matter how much they try, these prelates [among others] cannot "erase" the fact that they proclaim AND worship a Joooooooish Messiah as G-d! It is written in the Bible with indelible ink. Du-uuh!

Take out the OT, and all references to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, The Prophets, King David, etc., in the NT don't make sense.

Oh, by the way, Yeshua celebrated...ta da...Hanukkah! Betha if they could, they'd knock out the books of Maccabees 1 and 2 in Catholic bibles to further strip Yeshua of his Joooooishness. Oy!

Huh? What? "Yeshua," you say? Yes, that's how "Jesus" said his name.


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