Catholic Church v. Israel
Pope Francis endorsed the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem. This should surprise no well-informed person. Francis, like his predecessor, Pope Benedict, knows where the holiest and most world-significant site of the Jewish People rests. He knows about the theological significance of the Temple Mount and how it casts a question on Catholic dogma. But let me focus on the learned Benedict whom, unlike Francis, one cannot mistake for a Leftist.
Pope Benedict’s dilemma
Professor Joseph Alois Ratzinger, who visited to Israel in 1975 and again in 1994, was not a naïve academic. He understood that an Arab-Islamic state in Israel’s heartland dooms the Jewish State. But given the doctrine of papal infallibility to which Roman Catholics genuflect, the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948 must stick like a bone in the throat of any Bishop of Rome.
Ratzinger understood that Israel’s rebirth is one of the most significant events in history. This event has had, and continues to have, profound repercussions for a very large part of mankind.
Stunned and embarrassed, Christian (as well as Islamic) theologians have had to perform all sorts of mental gymnastics to account for the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland.
Catholic Christianity especially discomfited.
For millennia the Church propagated the theological doctrine that the Jews are eternally damned and rejected by the Almighty for having refused to recognize the Nazarene. No wonder the Vatican refused, until recently, to recognize the Jewish State of Israel.
This passage from the Jesuit revue Civilta Cattolica tells it all:
1827 years have passed since Jesus of Nazareth’s prophecy that Jerusalem would be destroyed, that the Jews would be exiled as slaves among the nations and remain scattered to the end of time…. According to the holy scriptures, it is incumbent on the Jewish people to live forever scattered and wandering among the gentile nations, in order to provide testimony to Jesus, not only via the writings, but by means of their very existence. Being that Jerusalem has now been rebuilt, to become a center for the renewed Israeli State, we are duly bound to add this is a direct contradiction to Jesus’ own prophecy.
In 1948 the Vatican, in an English radio program, hailed the new Jewish state by describing Zionism as a “new Nazism” and Israel as “a grave menace to Christianity.”
Recognize Israel or protect doctrine?
Apparently, the Roman Catholic Church could not recognize the State of Israel without placing in question its own religion. It has compromised itself by its participation and complicity in the persecution and slaughter of millions of innocent Jewish men, women, and children. [See Pathways to the Torah (Jerusalem: Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, 1988), Sect. A14, for a brief survey of some 1,900 years of venomous hatred of the Jewish people by such Christian divines as Tertullian, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory, Pope Innocent III, Pope Paul IV, and Pope Pius VII.]
Consider, also, the horrifying slaughter of Jews by Lithuanian Catholics on June 25, 1941. They tortured, axed, shot, or burned alive more than 10,000 Jews. [See Aaron Sorasky, Reb Elchonon (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mesorah Publications, 1982), p. 407.]
In February 1992, Argentina opened its files on Nazi war criminals. The files reveal how the Catholic Church aided the escape of these Nazis. One may say much the same of the hierarchy of France’s Roman Catholic Church. [See The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 9, 1992, p. 10.]
Ponder, too, the audiences Pope John Paul II gave to PLO chief Yasser Arafat, the godfather of international terrorism. Some have said in the Pope’s defense he was making a distinction between the sin and the sinner. Judaism also makes this distinction, but the rabbis do not shake the bloodstained hands of murderers – as might paltry politicians. Harsh words? Then let me remind readers of an event that took place in 1929.
The Hebron Massacre
In that year, the Arabs, with British connivance, indulged in an orgy of rape and murder that destroyed the ancient community in Hebron. The British mandatory government invited prominent Jews to Government House, presumably to express condolences for the pogrom which included the most savage mutilation of men, women, and children.
The British Secretary of the Mandatory Government extended his hand to greet Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, the religious leader of the pre-state Jewish Community. And that great Rabbi refused the handshake. He said it was a hand “besmirched with Jewish blood.”
By endorsing a sovereign Arab-Islamic state in Judea and Samaria, Pope Benedict (like Pope Francis) was instructing more than one billion Roman Catholics to support the enemies of the Jewish people whom he piously called “brothers.”
One cannot fight a polite war
With genocide staring Israel in the face from Iran, this is no time for politeness. Millions of evangelical Christian Zionists, and many Catholic laymen, identify with Israel vis-à-vis the menace Islam poses to western Civilization. Now these Christians should expose the Vatican to respectful but incisive criticism on both theological and political grounds. When they do that, they can galvanize Catholic Christianity to speak up against the most horrendous enemy of mankind. That enemy: Islam, which is slaughtering Christians in the name of Allah.
Regrettably, the Vatican fears of a flourishing but self-constrained Judaism more than a supremacist and expansionist Islam. They do so even when ISIS stands at the gates. They do it for theological, as well as for reasons affecting their global status. All good men should rally behind Israel. For Israel stands as the authentic champion of ethical and intellectual monotheism that justifies a multiplicity of nations to manifest the plenitude and creativity of God.◙