An Archbishop's Anti-Semitism

The anti-Israel wing of the Catholic Church descends on the Vatican.

The latest example of self-imposed Arab-Christian dhimmitude comes to us from the synod of Catholic bishops, who met in Rome for a special two-week meeting on the Middle East at the Vatican. The event was attended by 185 bishops, most of whom were from 22 Eastern Catholic and Arab churches, representing 5.7 million followers in 16 Middle Eastern states.  A press conference led by Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, a Boston-based Melkite Greek-Catholic Archbishop, followed the October 23, 2010 synod conclusion. Unfortunately, the synod of Catholic bishops took the opportunity the press conference provided to publicize extreme anti-Israel rhetoric.

There is no such thing as a chosen people,” declared Archbishop Bustros. “Israel cannot use the Bible as a reason for claiming Palestinian lands.”  The Lebanese native continued, “This promise [to Jews] was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people—all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.”

According to the progressive-liberal website Op Ed News, the bishops said that “recourse to theological and biblical positions that use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable.”

The Vatican meeting on the Middle East was the Catholic version of the non-Evangelical Protestant Arab-Palestinian declaration known as the Kairos Palestine Document, which was issued last December.  Both declarations were politically inspired by the Arab-Palestinians and Arab League in an effort to delegitimize the Jewish State and to serve as a counter-measure to the largely pro-Israel American evangelical Protestants.

Christian-Arabs are leaders in various Arab nationalist movements, including the Baath party (in Syria and Iraq) and Palestinian terrorist organizations, and have identified with Muslims politically and culturally in an attempt to forestall the jihadist impulses of Muslims against the Christian community.  Christian-Arabs hope to coexist with Muslims on equal terms and believe that the appeasement of their Muslim oppressors will gain them acceptance.  However, the relationship is doomed to fail. Christians throughout the Islamic Middle East are being persecuted and discriminated against and despite attempts by Christian-Arab clergy to curry favor with Arab-Muslim regimes, flocks of Christians are being pushed out of their native countries - especially in the Palestinian territories. For Arabs throughout the Middle East, Islam alone defines their identity.  Ironically, it is only in Israel that the Christian population has grown and flourished.

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.”