Vatican rejects “chosen people” claim, calls on Israel to end “occupation”

A high-ranking Israeli official on Sunday slammed a statement from Catholic bishops, who called for international organizations to lead the cause of Palestinian statehood.

Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Bustros sparked an interreligious firestorm when he suggested that Israel was “using Scripture” to continue its occupation of Palestinian territory.

“The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians,” Bustros said at the close of a two-week conference in Rome, Italy, “to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands.”

The Archbishop then questioned the biblical idea of a “promised land” set aside by a specific group of people.

“We Christians cannot speak of the promised land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people,”Bustros continued. “This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.”

Bustros led the group that drafted the synod’s concluding statement on Israel and the Palestinians.

The controversial comments came at the conclusion of a two-week Vatican conference assembled to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

Pope Benedict XVI was in attendance at the synod and celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Cathedral on Sunday with the bishops.

Israel responds

On Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon criticized the concluding statement of the conference, saying the forum has been “hijacked by an anti-Israeli majority.”

“We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda,” Ayalon said in a statement. “The synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority.”

Ayalon then called on the Vatican to distance itself from the comments, which the Israeli official said amounted to “libel.”

“We call on the Vatican to distance themselves from Archbishop Bustros’ comments which are a libel against the Jewish People and the State of Israel and should not be construed as the Vatican’s official position,” the foreign minister said in his statement. “These outrageous comments should not cast a shadow over the important relationship between the Vatican, the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

The Palestinian Authority, however, praised Bustros’ comments.

“Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a promised land or chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or Israeli territorial claims,” Saeb Erakat, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement released Sunday.

Erakat said the synod sent “a clear a message to the government of Israel that it may not claim that Jerusalem is an exclusively Israeli city.”

“The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security,” the statement continued optimistically. “The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders.”

“The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim,” it said. “We hope that the two-state-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.”

Pope Benedict XVI first called for a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis during a visit to the region in May 2009 when he voiced the Vatican’s support of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was opposed to a two-state solution.

The Vatican, however, eager to boost its sagging popularity worldwide, noted during the synod that only 2.1 per cent of those living in Israel are Christian, who continue to be outnumbered by high Jewish and Muslim birthrates.

The Catholic Church also mentioned conflict, religious discrimination and economic woes as the cause of its shrinking influence in the Middle East.

No sign of apology

The Vatican in January blamed Israel not only for the exodus of Christians from Palestinian-controlled territories, but for the plight of Christians across the entire Middle East.

The statement, which served as the basis for the latest Vatican synod, was also authored by Arab bishops from the Middle East, who argued that Israel’s “occupation” of Arab-claimed lands is the root cause of most of the oppression suffered by Christians in the region.

They suggested that in the absence of an “occupation,” radical Islamic forces across the Middle East would lose their support base, and stop causing problems for Christians.

The Vatican said they were not trying to take sides in the issue, but that the Arab bishops “know the situation well.”

This is not the first time of late that religious tensions have boiled over between the adherents of Judaism and Christianity.

Earlier this year, the Catholic Church became suddenly embroiled in a string of pedophile cases, some of them dating back many years. Some inside of the Catholic Church saw a “Jewish conspiracy” behind the reports.

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, the archbishop of Honduras, said there was something curious about the media’s timing of the revelations, coming as they did as the conflict in the Middle East was heating up.

“It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago…”

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily newspaper, criticized what it said was a “clear and despicable intention” by the media to strike at Benedict “at any cost.”

American lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a well known defender of Israeli interests, called the Cardinal’s assertions a “cockamamie theory” and “blood libels,” while arguing that much of the criticism (concerning the pedophile cases) “comes from disappointed Catholics.”

Strange how two religions that emerged from the same seed are so committed to dragging each other down at every opportunity.

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  • jimmy_V

    Do I hear a voice of reason in the air?

  • meryleeweisman

    Not one of the 14 million Jews in existence believes we are the “chosen people”. Actually we giggle when we hear that nonsense. Typical, YOU HAVE IT COMPLETELY BACKWARDS!!! G-D DID NOT CHOOSE US, WE CHOSE HIM!! Now, let that sink in for a minute. It makes a world of difference once you realize that you fell for some really bad advertising. It simply isn’t true, Jews have ALWAYS known it too. yea, we have, for over SIX THOUSAND YEARS, we’ve known it was backwards. You want to believe it, what are we supposed to do? Spend forever arguing with you? We have lives to live too. But I’ll try ONE MORE TIME, here is what really happened according to historical record and the Old Testament.
    Back in the day, everybody worshiped idols. Many worshiped lots of different ones, some groups only worshiped one. The most popular single idol was Bal. Along come G-d, he has this long list of demands of how he wants people to live. How he wants them to behave, how he wants them to treat each other. he is VERY demanding, he includes how they will clothe themselves, how they will speak to each other, what they may and may not eat, all kinds of things. AND, they have to give up ALL of their idols, RIGHT NOW. In exchange, for all of that obedience, he will love and protect them, he will make them “the light of the nations”, he will educate them and discipline them, lead and guide them to excellence in exchange for obedience of his laws. He took this deal to the leaders of the various idol worshipping groups. One after another they rejected his offer. They looked at his demands and scoffed at his Angel. Some threw stones, some threw garbage. He came to a very humble shop, with idols of only Bal. One man sat alone inside and the Angel entered. The man offered him cool water and the Angel began to talk. He made his offer and the man listened. This man was Soloman, yes, Soloman the Wise. He accepted the Angel’s offer. You see, Jews were not chosen by G-d, Jews, thru Solomon, chose G-d. The 316 demands G-d made of Solomon on that day, exist to this very day. Every Jew, every day of his or her life works very hard to fullfill as many of them as they possibly can each and every day. Especially the very FIRST ONE: TIKKUN OLAM, repair the world. The world is neither finished or perfect. With everything you think do or say, make sure that thought, action or word, improves or repairs it. If not, rethink it, don’t do it, or SHUT UP. Be a good Jew, be a good person.

    • gordiduk

      I guess you didn’t read the Book of Exodus…Nice story though…

      • meryleeweisman

        Of course I read it and one has nothing to do with the other. They are thousands of years apart, and again, the Exodus is G-d fulfilling his promise. How does that negate Solomon’s CHOOSING to accept the deal? The historical and archeological record proves the Exodus, even documents part of the route. What part confuses you?

        • gordiduk

          I’ve read and understand the whole Bible. Nothing confuses me, but thanks for asking. Actually, God could have chosen any number of tribes or peoples to show his greatness to. He just happened to choose the Hebrews. No big deal there. And as the Old Testament narrative shows, not all of the chosen ones followed His directions. After the salvation from the Egyptians, He wasn’t too pleased with the ones who started worshiping the golden calf at the foot of Mountain, thus He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. They weren’t the Ten Suggestions. He then kept His Covenant as promised in Genesis by sending a Messiah (Jesus) who many of the chosen ones then, and still many today, don’t seem to believe in. It is pretty clear if you actually understand everything written and revealed in the New Testament as written. What part of the “Good News” taught by His Son confuses you?

          • noyou

            “Which came first? boring, self-righteous a holes or the internet?”

          • Know Really

            You were born before the internet, so the former would be the correct answer.

          • gordiduk

            Are you really an imbecile, or do you just play one on the net???

          • Alan C

            I’m pretty sure that calling someone an imbecile isn’t in the spirit of Jesus’s teachings. And trying to bully meryleeweisman into recognizing Jesus isn’t either. You don’t have to convince her, that job’s already been taken.

          • ArrogantIsraeli

            Shame then that god doesn’t exist but that destroys your misguided petty superstitions and a deluded “right” to enslave other peoples.

          • gordiduk

            Wow, brilliant analysis Einstein…

          • meryleeweisman

            Ok, here we go again. G-d DID NOT CHOOSE US, WE CHOSE HIM. Period end of story. We do not accept Jesus as the Messiah simply because he did not fulfill the covenants as laid down by G-d’s law. We do respect what he said, we admire his teachings, but don’t accept him as the Messiah. We don’t accept the concept that Jesus or ANYONE EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CAN TAKE OUR SINS AWAY. That’s the long and short of it. We are responsible for our own actions and behavior, period. No one can absolve us of responsibility, only through our own actions can we “make our wrongs right”. We don’t accept ANY intermediary between an individual and their relationship with G-d. It is a private relationship, between one person and G-d, no third person can get involved. No priest, minister, or savior/messiah can interfere or even get involved. A Rabbi is a teacher only. A Rabbi is not required for ceremonies, it is preferred, but not required. Any member of the congregation can lead services, make a marriage etc. This is how we have believed for approx six thousand years and it isn’t going to change.

            As for feisty Israelis oh they sure are! Loud, fiery and very very feisty folks. The Christian Israelis, Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis and most likely the Atheists too, argumentative, loud and oh so very very fiery and feisty. I guess when your home is surrounded on three boarders by those that want to wipe you off the planet, the fourth boarder is the ocean, you toughen up FAST. When you are outnumbered 14 to 1, that tends to really lessen your need to please the world. Not that they need me to defend them, they do a dandy job of that themselves.

          • gordiduk

            How self-centered your assertion that your ancestors chose God and He didn’t choose them. You surely sound like one of those stiff-necked people whose hearts and ears are still uncircumcised because you still resist the Holy Spirit. FYI, Jesus, God’s son, washed away Man’s Original Sin by his death on the Cross, not all our sins we commit while we live on this Earth. Not sure where you got your erroneous view of the Christian faith from, but it is absolutely wrong. Good luck waiting for another Messiah, since He has already come and fulfilled God’s covenant. And He revealed himself as the greatest Rabbi of them all (of course) by teaching those who are willing to listen that there is only one true path to Heaven, which is by following His footsteps. I’m right, you’re wrong, end of the story.

          • meryleeweisman

            Make all the accusations you want, all the name calling you want, insist on righteous superiority as loud and stubbornly as you want. You aren’t the first to insist we’re wrong, demand that we accept Jesus and convert to Christianity or suffer forever, now THERE’S a loving thought. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. We have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah, and we never will. It is that simple. We respect your right to believe and practice as you choose. We also respect your beliefs and practices. We just don’t share them. My faith is strong, that you choose not to share it is your choice and fine with me. I am very sorry that it threatens your faith and causes such a problem for you.

          • atijals

            God knows the Jew and the Greeks (rest of us), while we look at the outside God looks at the heart !! Their belief or unbelief does not change God’s position for as the new testament says… His promises are yes and amen !! There very existence of Israel is testament to this. Whether we like it or not, vote against for or not, we can never change the Jews future… as God ordained, so it has been, so it is, and so it shall be !!

        • Know Really

          Gen 15: 18-21 and Josh 1:4. A bit before Solomon.

      • atijals

        Read Isaiah and Ezekiel too, Bible does not end at Exodus… goes all the way to Revelations. good read ad solidifies Israel’s position over and over again !!

    • Beentheredonethat

      Having been to Israel and encountered Israeli’s in other countries I know that they are some of the rudest most arrogant people I have ever met. This is not leveled at jewish people but the people who inhabit the occupying power of Israel and keep the people of Gaza in a concentration camp.

    • atijals

      Jews are who they are as the Bible says… ‘the apple of God’s eye’ and that is why everyone seems to pick on them. God’s foreign policy on Israel is ‘ Bless them and you are blessed, curse them and you are cursed’. No apologies! period.
      For salvation is first unto the Jews and then the Greeks…. who is man that he questions God ! Look at the turmoil in the middle east countries that meddle with Israel and now in former allies who are re positioning.. God is not man that he should lie. Watch and see how God will deliver Israel…!!

  • donr1x

    Catholic Bishops………….how can you take them seriously??

    I have seen pics of C C in cahoots with the Nazis.

    And almost worse, their church harbours child molesters.

    So how can you take these guys in robes seriously…… simply cant.!

  • Blurbwriter

    Who cares. Most Israeli Jews are secular anyhow and couldn’t care less about what the bible says or doesn’t say. Israel is here to stay – get used to it. If Israel is attacked either from the inside or the outside it will defend itself – no more lambs to the slaughter as the Catholic Church would prefer.

    • atijals

      Secular or not, Israel will stand coz God says it will.

  • Kris Kristian

    The Catholixc Church has always been anti Semitic.
    We must not forget the Spanish Inquisition by the Catholic Church which burned jews at the stake for not converting to catholic.
    They set a good example for ISIS and others.
    The Church has eenounced the Torah and the Old Bible by “eeplacement theoog

    • atijals

      Kris, that is true, the catholic church is anti semitic… and in my opinion probably a cult not a church… take for example the rosary .. very similar to what is used in Islam etc

  • atijals

    The Bible is very clear on the position of Israel in the Middle East and if the catholic church is genuine and not a cult then they must realize the scripture holds and as part of the church they must uphold. Otherwise even the authenticity of the Catholic church must be questioned. The catholic church needs to be reminded of Joshua 1:8. God’s promises hold and he has restored Israel back to the promised land. Jews have a right to be where they are. If anything, they have not fully claimed back all that was promised to them. Palestine has its place and it is not in Israel. They need to sort that out and after all they are their own worst enemy, they should have taken the half of Israel they were offered in 1948, they cant cry foul now… choices have consequences!! Anyway the world owes Jews much more than any other people… they have blessed us with much more than any other group of people yet they are less than 1% of the world.Why is is that we tend to bully smaller groups. Yes the Arab and Muslim affiliated groups are bullies and they sure have terrorized some people but if you know your God ( the God of Israel and Jacob) – of whom shall you be afraid… mere mortals who only destroys flesh but cannot destroy the soul, only our God can do this … these are the times we as Christians are called to stand strong in faith and rally behind Israel. Even it it means we die then so be it, But the TRUTH will prevail… we will never bow down to the schemes of the devil!!

    • Karl Rainer

      First of all you seem to forget that it was Palestine before Israel in 1948, and most of the land was owned and populated by Arabs, according to British government records, and some israeli historians. According to Illan Pappe the Israeli historian, jews only owned 6 % of the land. The Arabs were “offered “45% of the land, (and the Jews 55%, mostly Arab owned land) which would be a loss of a quarter of Arab lands to Zionist gangs they regarded as terrorists and brutes,- even by May 1948, almost a quarter of a million Arabs had been ethnically cleansed from their land. Remember Palestine was not the UNs land to give away. And second the Zionists REJECTED the UN partition plan as they wanted to conquer even more land. By the end of 1948, over 750,000 Arabs had been ethnically cleansed and 530 villages destroyed by the Zionists. Jewish occupation of land now stood at 70%. That’s how Israel was created. Read the book “The Ethnic cleansing of Palestine” by Illan Pappe to learn more. Even fomrer Israeli PM Begin admitted “if it wasn’t for [the massacre of] Deir Yassin there would be no Israel” – the infamous massacre by bayonette of hundreds of civilians including women and children in an Arab village – used by the Zionists to spread fear and terror to in wanted terrorist (and Israel’s first PM) Ben Gurion’s words – “cleanse the Arabs from the Galilee”.

  • Stephanie MacFarlane

    of course the Catholic Church has a problem. According to them the world was made two thousand years ago, T
    he Jewish faith disproves that by having a history that goes back much farther.