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PostThu Oct 28, 2010 2:54 pm     What Bible is the Vatican reading?    


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Nearly half a century of improved Catholic-Jewish relations took a heavy blow earlier this week when a Vatican synod in Rome launched a blunt assault on the foundation of Jewish belief. At a press conference, Archbishop Cyril Bustros of Boston denied the unique, covenantal relationship between G-d and the Jews, while rejecting the Divine promise to restore the people of Israel to their land.
One cannot help but wonder: what Bible is the Vatican reading?

Whichever one it is, it must be missing a few pages, as even a cursory glance at the Scriptures makes clear that the Jewish people's right to the Land of Israel is Biblically and indisputably ordained.

As I suggest in the column below from the Jerusalem Post, given the Catholic Church's long and dark history of anti-Jewish bullying and persecution, it is only fitting that the pope himself should speak out loudly and clearly on this issue.

It is incumbent upon Pope Benedict to transform this turn of events into a profound opportunity to atone for what the Church has done to the Jewish people down through the centuries.



Comments and feedback may be sent to: letters@jpost.com or to me directly.



thanks,



Michael Freund




http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/C.....?id=193019



The Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2010




By Michael Freund



This past Saturday, a synod of bishops in Rome tossed the theological equivalent of a hand-grenade, threatening to blow up decades of efforts to improve Catholic-Jewish relations.

In a press conference held at the Vatican, Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, a Greek Melkite archbishop from Boston and president of the Church's “Commission for the Message,” launched a blistering attack against the very foundation of Jewish belief.

"The Holy Scriptures", Bustros declared, "cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands."

Not stopping there, the archbishop then went on to state that, "We Christians cannot speak of the ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people….There is no longer a chosen people," he said.

And so, in one fell swoop, a senior church official sought to deny the unique, covenantal relationship between G-d and the Jews, while rejecting the Divine promise to restore the people of Israel to their land.

One cannot help but wonder: what Bible is the Vatican reading?

Whichever one it is, it must be missing a few pages, as even a cursory glance at the Scriptures makes clear that the Jewish people's right to the Land of Israel is Biblically and indisputably ordained.

Take, for example, Isaiah 14:1-2: "The L-rd will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land."

Or how about Jeremiah 11:5, where G-d says: "I will fulfill the oath I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey ..."

And then there is Ezekiel 34: 11-13. And Hosea 3:4-5. And Amos 9:14-15. And Obadiah 1:17, Zephaniah 3:19-20, as well as Zechariah 8:7-8.

You get the point.

But it doesn't seem that the leaders of the Catholic Church do.

After the Lebanese-born Bustros' remarks caused a furor, the Vatican spokesman waited two days before issuing a mealy-mouthed statement which did little to calm the storm.

"If one wants a summary of the Synod’s position, attention must currently be paid to the 'Message,' which is the only written text approved by the synod in the last few days,” the Vatican's Father Federico Lombardi said.

“There is also a great richness and variety in the contributions made by the fathers," he added, "but which as such should not all be considered as the voice of the synod as a whole."

Lombardi's efforts to contain the fallout won't fool anyone. There is no getting around the fact that this convocation of bishops was called by the pope himself.

Moreover, the perception around the world was that the Vatican had officially delegitimized Israel while assaulting Judaism itself.

As the Catholic writer William Doino Jr. noted, "In a statement meant to be fully and intensely Christian, Israel was singled out for blame and criticism. That’s not fair, much less Christian."

Indeed, this entire episode is little more than a cheap bit of politics donning the ecclesiastical robes of religion.

Bustros and his colleagues clearly have a political ax to grind with the Jewish state, and they shamefully do not hesitate to invoke the sacred for this most profane of goals.

My Christian friends tell me that the words "Palestine" and "Palestinians" do not even appear anywhere in the New Testament. So the learned bishops could not have come up with the idea of the "occupation of Palestine" while attending Sunday school.

Furthermore, by Bustros' own definition, the founder of Christianity would also have to be considered an "occupier" and a "settler", for according to Christian belief, Jesus the Jew was born and raised in Bethlehem.

That is the very same Bethlehem that Bustros would now like to see become part of a Palestinian state that is free of Jews.

No matter how one looks at it, the synod's unbridled insult to Israel and the Jewish people simply cannot be allowed to stand. If it is not denounced and corrected forthwith, it will quickly be exploited by Israel's enemies to stir up still more hatred and strife.

In a letter to Cardinal-elect Kurt Koch, the newly-appointed head of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the Anti-Defamation League rightly singled out Bustros' remarks as "the worst kind of anti-Judaism, bordering on anti-Semitism".

The organization called on Koch to "swiftly and publicly correct Archbishop Bustros's shocking and damaging statements", and to clarify whether his "interpretation of the Synod's final report reflects the intention of the Synod on these profound theological matters".

I would take it one step further. Given the Catholic Church's long and dark history of anti-Jewish bullying and persecution, it is only fitting that the pope himself should speak out loudly and clearly on this issue.

It is incumbent upon Pope Benedict to transform this turn of events into a profound opportunity to atone for what the Church has done to the Jewish people down through the centuries.

Ironically, it was 45 years ago today, on October 28, 1965, that the Second Vatican Council approved a document known as "Nostra Aetate", which heralded a sea-change in the Church's position toward the Jews.

In its wake, much has been accomplished in enhancing relations between the two faiths.

But Archbishop Bustros and his hate-filled rhetoric now threaten to turn back the clock and undermine nearly half a century of dialogue and progress. What a terrible shame that would be for all concerned.

For while the Church may pride itself on preaching love and tolerance, when it comes to its attitude toward the Jews, they still have got a long way to go.


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