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The words chosen by Archbishop Bustros at the press conference surpassed political propaganda and entered into the realm of anti-Semitism. His statements repudiated the long and basic biblical understanding commonly held by Christians and Jews. Bustros dismissed the covenantal relationship between God and his Jewish People and rejected the notion of the divine promise to restore the people of Israel to their land. Moreover, Bustros contradicted the teachings of the Catholic Church established under Nostra Aetate which states: “Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures.”
In the Nostra Aetate declaration, it states clearly that God “does not repent of the gifts He makes or the calls He issues.” This was also the view of the Apostle Paul: “the gifts of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) and in the King James Version of the Holy Bible: “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land…And the House of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord” (Isaiah 14:1-2). It is also repeated in Jeremiah 11:5: “that I [God] may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, so be it, O Lord.” And again in Ezekiel 34:13: “And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel[.]” The prophets Hosea (3:4-5), Amos (9:14-15), Obadiah (1:17), and Zechariah (8:7-8) speak of the Jewish people, not Arab-Palestinians. The terms Palestine and Palestinians are not mentioned in the New Testament and, to use Bustros’s arguments, Jesus himself would have to be considered a “settler” and “occupier” since he was a Jew who lived in Bethlehem.
In a Huffington Post entry, Rabbi David Rosen, Interreligious Affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, reacted to the Catholic Bishops statements by saying:
The comments of Archbishop Bustros reflect either shocking ignorance or insubordination in relation to the Catholic Church’s teaching on Jews and Judaism. Rosen addressed the synod in its first week and said that the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s affirmed “the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish People, which is inextricably bound up with the land of Israel.
The Anti-Defamation League, in a letter addressed to Cardinal-elect Kurt Koch, head of the Vatican’s Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews, wrote, “Archbishop Bustros is effectively stating that Judaism should no longer exist. This represents the worst kind of anti-Judaism, bordering on anti-Semitism.” The letter ended with the following statement: “We also respectfully ask that the Vatican clarify whether Archbishop Bustros’ interpretation of the final Synod report reflects the intention of the Synod on these profound theological matters.”
It is clear that the Christian Arab bishops and, in particular, Archbishop Bustros, have a problem with the existence of a Jewish State. While they so transparently do the bidding of Palestinian Muslims, they have regrettably ignored the suffering of Christians in the Arab-Muslim world and in the Palestinian Authority.
Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister referred to Bustros’ statement as “a libel against the Jewish people and the State of Israel” and expressed “disappointment that this important Synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best tradition of Arab propaganda.” Ayalon added, “This Synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority.”
A Jerusalem Post editorial suggested that Pope Benedict XVI has a chance to distance himself from the Synod’s declarations, which deviate from the Catholic Church’s teaching. “This is the right and necessary thing for the Pope to do – not just for Jewish-Catholic relations, but also for the sake of the Middle East’s persecuted minority.”
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