Melkite Catholic bishop riles Jewish-Catholic relations

religion | Oct 24, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

The World Jewish Daily referred to comments made by members of the recently completed Vatican meeting of Catholic bishops of the Mideast. The paper, which is widely circulated in the US, referred to "a number of shocking statements that appear to set back Jewish-Catholic relations to pre-Vatican II days, a Vatican synod denied the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

“The Holy Scriptures 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,” said Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, a Greek Melkite archbishop who resides in Massachusetts, in an October 23 press conference at the conclusion of the synod. 

“We Christians cannot speak of the 'promised land' as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. 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. " 

Archbishop Bustros also called for the return of Palestinian refugees, while some of his statements were interpreted to call for the nullification of Israel's Jewish character.

Mordechay Lewy, Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, described Bustros remarks as “returning to successionist theology, contradicting Second Vatican Council teaching and Pope Benedict himself—who has welcomed the return of Jews to their ancient homeland.”

Butros' statements concluded a two-week meeting called by the Pope to address the plight of Christians who are fleeing the Middle East.

Although much of the criticism at the conference focused on Israel, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor pointed out that Christian flight from the Middle East is actually occurring in countries where there are no Jews.

"Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the number of Christians has increased over the years," he said.

He also remarked that theological disputes over the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures were a phenomenon of the Middle Ages. "It doesn't seem like a wise move to revive them," he said.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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