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The Holy See and Israel: The Historic Fight against the Jews and their State

 
Filed under: Israel
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review
Volume 31, Numbers 3-4

Evangelists see the return of the Jews to their Homeland of the Jews as a Divine plan, but for many Muslims and Christians, it can only be an accident of history, a parenthesis to be erased whenever possible.1 Today, many continue to consider the existence of the State of Israel only as a political reality.

The Holy See2 has ridiculed and fought the Zionist project for an entire century. The Jews were condemned to eternal dispersal, far from Jerusalem and the Holy Land, until the Day of Judgment and the conversion of all non-Christians. The “eternal” exile of the Jewish people was a sanction for not recognizing Jesus as the Messiah and will end after they convert. Muslims did not convert. Billions of Chinese and Indians did not convert. Christians convert to Islam.

The Jews did not have to convert to Christianity. They returned to their Land, and 45 years after Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, the Holy See finally recognized Israel on December 30, 1993, several years after the peace treaty with Egypt (1979).3

On December 30, 1993, a Fundamental Agreement between The Holy See and the State of Israel and an additional protocol were signed.4 The Fundamental Agreement was ratified by the State of Israel on February 20, 1994, and by the Holy See on March 7, 1994.

A Vatican Nunciature in Israel and an Israeli embassy in Rome were established on January 19, 1994. On November 10, 1997, the Holy See and Israel entered into a Legal Personality Agreement. However, the Israeli Knesset has not passed it into legislation.

In conformity with the Fundamental Agreement, the Israel-Vatican Working Commission was created and convened in Jerusalem on April 30, 2009, and since then, every year, without result. The status and the taxes on church properties, as well as income taxes, still remain an issue. Moreover, the Holy See requests the freedom to spread its religious messages, i.e., the right to proselytize, to convert Jews.5

Already in 1987, Pope John Paul II met with PLO leader Yasser Arafat and supported increased rights for Palestinians. The Pope met him several times. In August 2001, Arafat met Pope John Paul II during the Intifada when Jews were being killed on their Land.

On February 15, 2000, the Holy See concluded a basic agreement with the PLO representing the Palestinians.

In 2003, the local Latin Patriarch was one of the signatories of the “Statement regarding the Separation Wall by heads of Churches” in Jerusalem. On August 22, 2006, “the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism,” which repudiates Christian Zionism as inconsistent with Christian teaching, was signed by the same Latin Patriarch, Michel Sabbah. In 2008, the Kairos Palestine Document (published in 2009, after Sabbah’s term) against Israel’s so-called occupation was signed. The Latin Patriarch is appointed by the Pope (Holy See).

On December 17, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, in a meeting with PNA and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, made an official endorsement of a UN General Assembly resolution that recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state.6

After formally recognizing the State of Palestine in February 2013, the Vatican announced on May 13, 2015, its intention to sign a treaty with that state.7 A Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine was signed on June 26, 2015.8 Pope Francis proceeded to establish diplomatic relations with that state, and on January 14, 2017, a Palestinian embassy to the Vatican was officially opened.

The Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine expresses:

full support for a just, comprehensive and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, in all its aspects, in accordance with international law and all relevant United Nations resolutions, as well as for an independent, sovereign, democratic and viable State of Palestine on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, living side by side in peace and security with all its neighbors.9

How the Catholic Church could teach in Nostra Aetate the unrevoked covenant with Israel and then conclude this agreement with the Muslim Arab non-existent State of Palestine?

Curiously, this document does not mention Israel by name, thus giving comfort to Palestinian Arab fantasies.

This “support” was made in violation of Article 11 of the Fundamental Agreement – the Israel-Holy See and International Law which provides that international agreements must be executed in good faith.10 In Article 11, the Holy See undertook to remain a stranger to the Israeli Palestinian conflict:

The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that, owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders.11

Pope Francis’ support was also made in violation of Article 24 of the Lateran Pacts (Conciliation Treaty), which reads:

In regard to the sovereignty appertaining to it also in international matters, the Holy See declares that it desires to take, and shall take, no part in any temporal rivalries between other States, nor in any international congresses called to settle such matters, save and except in the event of such parties making a mutual appeal to the pacific mission of the Holy See, the latter reserving, in any event, the right of exercising its moral and spiritual power. The Vatican City shall, therefore, be invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory. [Emphasis added]

In “Biblical terms.” the Holy See has also denied the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, to whom this Land was promised long ago. For the Church, it has been a principle that the Land of Israel should only be given back to the Jews when they will accept Jesus as the Messiah and convert.

On June 26, 2015, the Israeli Foreign Ministry “expressed its regret regarding the Vatican decision to officially recognize the Palestinian Authority as a state and the one-sided texts in the agreement which ignore the historic rights of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel and to the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem.”12

Israel’s Capital

On December 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

On the same day, Pope Francis stated his deep concern:

My thoughts now go to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot but express my deep concern for the situation that has arisen in recent days; and, at the same time, I cannot but launch a heartfelt appeal that everyone’s effort respect the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions.13

The Holy See chose to rely on resolutions that have no legal value14 rather than on prophecies that the Church shares with the Jews. According to the Church, “The permanence of Israel (while so many ancient peoples have disappeared without trace) is a historic fact and a sign to be interpreted within God’s design.” But “the existence of the State of Israel should be envisaged not in a perspective which is in itself religious.”15

The Holy See still seeks to divide the Land of the Almighty. It disregards the clear prophecy of Yoel:

I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there for My People and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided My Land. And they have cast lots for My people; And have given a boy for a harlot, And sold a girl for wine, and have drunk. (Yoel 4:2-3)

Some Christians are adopting the slanderous demonization of the Jews in their Land, accusing them of colonizing the Land and wanting to kill its Arab inhabitants.16 Many Christians attempt to dissimulate their true theological conviction that Israel is bound to failure by accusing Israel of human rights violations.17 Make no mistake about it, their agenda is theological, not moral! To give an example, Pax Christi, the Catholic Peace Organization, which has 30 national branches, and the Pax Christi Bank promote Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS).18 Bishop Manfred Scheuer resigned as president of Pax Christi Austria because of outbreaks of anti-Semitism within this NGO and at a Pax Christi event.19

An international network of Catholic aid societies serves as funding agents for the humanitarian foreign aid programs of many governments. Some of them provide taxpayer funds to “politicized NGOs active in the Muslim/Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict and promote BDS,” according to the NGO Monitor.20

“Church-based humanitarian NGOs receive funding from private as well as government donors to promote their agendas,” reports NGO Monitor. “Some of these groups are highly politicized and promote BDS within churches around the world, including a one-state framework, and, in many cases, anti-Semitic, supersessionist (or replacement) theologies.”21

The Vatican has yet to issue guidelines for all Catholic NGOs that promote BDS (and anti-Semitism). Doing so would enable all its churches and NGOs to avoid providing comfort to the Jewish State’s vilest enemies who deny its very right to even exist. The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions (and to the Jews), Nostra Aetate,22 mentions that “The Church …deplores the hatred, persecutions and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and from any source.”

The March 16, 1998, Letter of Pope John Paul II to Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, states:

The spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism must never again be allowed to take root in any human heart.

Erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this people.” “Such interpretations of the New Testament have been totally and definitively rejected by the Second Vatican Council.23

Yet, there are Church leaders and affiliated institutions who continue to propagate the spoiled seeds under the guise of helping the “poor Palestinians.” The Religious Leaders’ statement on Christian Zionism, signed by the Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem, as well as other local heads of churches in the Land of Israel, is an example.24

And all this, apparently, under the not-so-watchful eye of the Vatican.

The State of Israel has existed for 73 years, but the Pope and other Catholic Church leaders practice a double tongue for a synchronized policy.25 They state that “seeds of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism must never again be allowed by the Church to take root in any human heart,” but they ally with those who want to divide His Land and kill the Jews. They promote anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in the Catholic world, with the aim of mobilizing Christians and thereby opposing the full restoration of the State of Israel on His Land.

Israel is not the enemy of the Churches or an enemy of the Muslims. Christians’ main enemy is radical Islam which accuses them of practicing idolatry and persecutes Christians.26 Islam does not accept the “Trinity” and or the Christian faith that considers Christ (Greek for Messiah) as God/Son of God. Those who believe this are in total opposition to the Koran, according to these Muslims.27 In fact, the Koran ends with words:

Say: “He is God, One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, and has not been begotten, and equal to Him is not any one.” Surah 112, Al-Iklas (Sincere Religion – The Unity) [Emphasis added]

On June 20, 2014, Pope Francis lamented the growing number of conflicts across the globe, saying that we “are now in World War III.” We are indeed in the midst of a Third World War.28 On July 28, 2016, Pope Francis warned that the world is at war over jihadist terrorism.29 On August 1, 2016, Pope Francis repeated that the world has already entered World War III.30

Still 55 years after Nostra Aetate, many in the Catholic Church choose the wrong enemy. And the Catholic Church continues to seek ways to adjust to the restored Jewish Sovereignty; it would do well to better guide its flock in the ways of righteousness.

* * *

Notes

1 The Koran foresees the return of the Jews on the two sides of the Land. Indeed, the return of the Jews to their land is in accordance with the prophets and the Koran:

And We [God] made a people [the Children of Israel] considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in both East and West [east and west of the Jordan River], lands whereon We sent down Our blessings. (Surah A’raf, “The Heights,” 7:137)

“And We said to the Children of Israel, “Dwell in the Land; and when the promise of the world to come comes to pass, We shall bring you en masse.” (Surah al-Isra, “The Night Journey,” Bani Isra’il, “Children of Israel,” 17:105)

See The Deal of the Century in a Wider Context, Michael Calvo, JCPA,. https://jcpa.org/article/the-deal-of-the-century-in-a-wider-context/

However, the Muslims consider that the Jews are not the Jews of the Koran or that the time did not come yet.

2 The Holy See is the central governing body of the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy See is administered by the Roman Curia (Latin for Roman Court). The Pope governs the Catholic Church through the Roman Curia. The Holy See executes his task in the name of the Vatican. Holy See refers not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the Secretariat of State, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, and other institutes of the Roman Curia, unless it is otherwise apparent from the nature of the matter or the context of the words.

The Vatican City State was established by the Lateran Treaty in 1929 with Italy, providing the Holy See with a small territorial base, the Vatican City, and consequent recognition as an independent sovereign entity in international law.

3 Israel International Relations : International Recognition of Israel, List of States and dates, Jewish Virtual Library, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/international-recognition-of-israel,

4 https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfa-archive/1993/pages/fundamental%20agreement%20-%20israel-holy%20see.aspx

5 “Diplomatic tensions often arise due to the non-resolution of the accords relating to property rights and tax exemptions for the Church in Israel, the political activism of clergy in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the interplay between Israel-Vatican relations on one hand, and the Jewish-Catholic inter-religious dialogue, on the other. The main concerns of the Vatican in Israel are the protection of the Latin Rite Catholic churches, its properties and assets, and of the Holy places. Israel, for its part, has often taken offense at matters perceived by the church to be internal, but of religious/historical consequence by the Israel and Jews around the world (e.g. the beatification of Pope Pius XII, the pardoning of a Holocaust-denying priest, the subordination of inter-religious dialogue to evangelical aims, etc.). See Israel and the Holy See, from hostility to understanding, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, From 1994 to January 2010.

https://embassies.gov.il/holysee/Relations/Pages/israel-vatican.aspx#_edn103

6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_See%E2%80%93Palestine_relations#cite_note-4

7 The New Racists: Christians Who Hate Israel, Denis MacEoin, August 30, 2015, Gatestone Institute; https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6415/christians-israel

8 Comprehensive Agreement Between The State of Palestine and The Holy See, http://bibliotecanonica.net/docsaq/btcaqf.pdf

And https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprehensive_Agreement_between_the_Holy_See_and_the_State_of_Palestine

This did not prevent the Palestinian Muslims to continue to consider the Palestinian Christians as “infidels” and to force them to flee cities, which once had a Christian majority such as Bethlehem. “The Palestinian Authority…is, by its own constitution, an Islamic state that embodies the principles of shari’a. Christians living under the PA are “accorded sanctity and respect,” but, as is the case under all shari’a-based systems, Christians are relegated to the status of second-class citizens. Discrimination against Christians under the Palestinian Authority is not only legal, it is also social. “Why are Palestinian Christians Fleeing?” by Robert Nicholson, March 1, 2016, Providence, https://providencemag.com/2016/03/why-are-palestinian-christians-fleeing/

See also “Christians and Churches Attacked in the West Muslim Persecution of Christians,” by Raymond Ibrahim, December 24, 2014, (Muslim Attacks on Churches East Jerusalem), The Gatestone Institute, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4966/christians-churches-attacked

9 Supra note 7.

10 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 23 May 1969, Article 26. https://www.oas.org/legal/english/docs/Vienna%20Convention%20Treaties.htm

11 https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfa-archive/1993/pages/fundamental%20agreement%20-%20israel-holy%20see.aspx

12 https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfa-archive/1993/pages/fundamental%20agreement%20-%20israel-holy%20see.aspx

13 Pope Francis, General Audience, Wednesday, 6 December 2017, http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20171206_udienza-generale.html

In February 2020, Pope Francis warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, claiming that they would only be a prelude to new crises and expressing his opposition to the “Deal of the Century.” On July 1, 2020, Pope Francis summoned the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to the Vatican to protests Israel’s plans to apply Israeli Law to 30% of Judea and Samaria.

14 Resolutions of the UN General Assembly are no more than recommendations. They were imposed by 57 Muslim and Arab States and their friends in common interest. These resolutions are not binding under international law. UN Security Council resolutions not adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter are also not binding under international law. See the Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief of Professors Robert Badinter, Irwin Cotler, David Crane, Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Guglielmo Verdirame QC, and Lord David Pannick QC (par. 14, 15) confirming this legal point. Moreover, the UN has no power to create states. https://www.icc-cpi.int/CourtRecords/CR2020_00488.PDF

15 http://www.christianunity.va/content/unitacristiani/en/commissione-per-i-rapporti-religiosi-con-l-ebraismo/commissione-per-i-rapporti-religiosi-con-l-ebraismo-crre/documenti-della-commissione/en2.html

16 Palestinian Christian Theologians against Israel, Denis MacEoin, March 25, 2018, Gatestone Institute; https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12044/christian-theologians-israel ; “The Settlements are not illegal, Michel Calvo,” May 19, 2020, The Gatestone Institute, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/16032/israel-settlements-not-illegal and “The Indigenous Rights of the Jewish People and the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People” by Alan Baker and Michel Calvo, July 20, 2020, The Gatestone Institute, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/16258/indigenous-rights-jews-israel

17 “The New Racists: Christians Who Hate Israel,” Denis MacEoin, August 30, 2015, Gatestone Institute, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6415/christians-israel

18 Pax Christi, NGO Monitor, https://www.ngo-monitor.org/search/?q=PAX+CHRISTI

19 “Austrian bishop resigns from NGO over anti-Semitism at Palestinian event,” Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post, July 5, 2017, https://www.jpost.com/bds-threat/austrian-bishop-resigns-from-ngo-over-antisemitism-at-palestinian-event-498778

20 BDS in the Churches, Christian Aid Society, NGO Monitor,

https://www.ngo-monitor.org/key-issues/bds-in-the-churches/christian-aid-societies/#catholic

21 Church-based grantees, NGO Monitor, https://www.ngo-monitor.org/key-issues/bds-in-the-churches/ngo-involvement/#church-basedgrantees

22 October 28, 1965; http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

23 https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1998/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19980312_shoah.html

24 Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land co-signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, August 22, 2006,

https://www.globalministries.org/mee_advocacy_the_jerusalem_declaration_on_chr

Today, anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism, and anti-Semitism are the product of the dialectical nature of the relationship between Jewish History, Church History, and Islamic History. Gershon Nerel, Anti-Zionism in the “Electronic Church” of Palestinian Christianity, ACTA 27, Jerusalem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006.

https://sicsa.huji.ac.il/sites/default/files/sicsa/files/nerelprinter.pdf

In 1987, John Paul II named for the first time a Palestinian Arab as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the highest Catholic authority of the Holy Land. Patriarch Michel Sabah has become an important voice in the Church, denouncing the State of Israel’s continuous occupation of “Palestinian land.”

25 Giulio Meotti, “The Vatican against Israel: J’Accuse,” Mantua Books, Canada, 2013.

26 “The Persecution of Christians,” Raymond Ibrahim, Reports from August 2011 through October 2020, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/16882/persecution-of-christians-november-2020

27 For Muslims, Jesus was a messenger born from Mary. Jesus was not crucified. “It Was Made to Appear Like that to Them: Islam’s Denial of Jesus’ Crucifixion,” Gregory R. Lanier, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, https://journal.rts.edu/article/it-was-made-to-appear-like-that-to-them-islams-denial-of-jesus-crucifixion-in-the-quran-and-dogmatic-tradition/

28 We are in the midst of a Third World War, says Pope, Hannah Roberts in Rome, The Tablet, The Catholic News Weekly, August 23, 2014, http://www.thetablet.co.uk/world-news/5/3207/we-are-in-the-midst-of-a-third-world-war-says-pope

29 “Has jihadist terrorism plunged us into a Third World War?” Gavin Fernando, News.Com.Au, July 28, 2016, http://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/has-jihadist-terrorism-plunged-us-into-a-third-world-war/news-story/bf290bfb7ceac39d60a91317c2518ebe;

30 Suzette Gutierrez Cachila,Pope Francis warns world is facing World War 3,” Christian Times, August 1, 2016, http://christiantimes.com/article/pope-francis-warns-world-is-facing-third-world-war/59969.htm