Monday, December 24, 2007

Patriarch of Jerusalem's Christmas Message

I have always had a great deal of respect for the Latin Patriach of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah. Few years ago, in my last parish, he came to say Mass several days running whilst he attended a conference in Windsor. He brought with him a small delegation of fellow Christians. He told me personally of the oppression of the Christian minority, those who were with him, out of his hearing memebers of his delegation told me about the oppression that he continually suffered and his personal bravery.
The Israeli press have gone into high spin over part of his Christmas Message, this has been taken up by the Jewish newspapers worldwide, especially in the US. Pray for him and the Christians of the Holy Land as you think of Bethlehem this year.

"In this land, which is holy for three religions and for two peoples, religious states cannot be established because they would exclude or place in an inferior position the believers of the other religions," he said. "A state that would exclude or discriminate against the other religions is not suitable for this land made holy by God for all of humanity.
"Political and religious leaders must begin by understanding the universal vocation of this land in which God has brought us together throughout history. They must know that the holiness of this land does not consist in the exclusion of one or the other of the religions, but in the ability of each religion, with all of their differences, to welcome, respect, and love all who inhabit this land." Zenit


gemoftheocean said...

Can you clarify this for me: If the Israelis, oh, I don't know, say vaporized, does he really think that the Muslims would just let him alone and not overrun everything there?

Just asking. Perhaps I am mistaken but did not the Muslim terrorists act like absolute pigs when they occupied one of the most sacred sites in all Christianity a few years back? He may not like a Jewish state, if that is what he is implying, but I think given the current geopolitical realities the Islamofascists are feeling like they are "winning" something because they are willing to strap bombs on themselves because the radicals amongst them have some sort of fantasy about each getting 72 virgins somewhere. Radical Islam appeals to head hacker types, and those who are not of the radical persuasion themselves are fearful of those who are. All it takes is a critical mass of terrorists and a cowed people. I'd love to know why that pig, Yassir Arafat was invited to all those Christian services over the years. IT was like watching Hitler attend Midnight Mass, oh, wait. even Hitler wasn't that arrogant.

Fr Ray Blake said...

You Americans!
The Christian Community has lived there as Christians for almost two thousand years. For twelve hundred of those years, at least for last six hundred, the Christian and Moslem communities have coexisted.

Of course he is talking about all religious states, not just a Jewish one.

JARay said...

Not quite Father!
The Crusades began because Christians were being harrassed when they tried to visit the Holy Places. The Muslims were not so tolerant as to understand that Jerusalem belongs to three relions. It has taken the force of arms to bring about whatever tolerance there is right now.
The idea of christian charity is not exactly uppermost in two of those religions.


Michael Petek said...

I usually take the Patriarch's public statements with a pinch of salt. Not because I think he's dishonest, but because I suspect that, as a dhimmi, he has to be careful what he says in order to not antagonise the Muslims.

Israel's national existence, which Hamas wants to erase, is specifically willed by God as part of His plan for the world. Islam isn't.

Rita said...

"The lips of the just teach many: but they that are ignorant shall die in the want of understanding" (Proverbs 10)

Peace on you all this evening of all evenings! Dear American brothers and sisters, have a heart, draw back from the comfort zone of your politics and weep with the rest of us.

gemoftheocean said...

Thanks Michael and JARay. If the good Patriarch doesn't like the Jewish state of Israeli, I have a real hard time believing he'd love a state with Sharia law. The Western world can kiss all the Christian sites in the Holy Land "good bye."

I'd have to look it up, but given the patriarch's first name of "Michel" does that imply some sort of French Connection? If so his disdain for a Jewish state would be in keeping with French attitudes towards the Jews by and large. I take it he wouldn't necessarily have an "empty chair" for any Jewish leaders like he did for Yassir "may he rot and burn in hell unless he managed to babble some heartfelt prayers of repentance before he died" Arafat. At least Jews don't use the Church of the Nativity as a toilet. I'm sure the Patriarch is all choked up the Jews can't visit the Temple Mount. It's not the Jews that are the problem... it's the Patriarch's fanatical Arab Muslim "brethren." The enemy of your enemy isn't necessarily your "friend." Not even in the used car-dealer sense.

Oh, and Fr. Ray.... I take it the Patriarch isn't adverse to the Vatican State... also a religious state, but I don't think anyone's going to be rolling out a prayer rug any time soon.

The Patriarch would do well to remember there's a reason we honor the Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7th. Pius V in a more realistic age marshaled the Christian forces to defeat the Muslims from overrunning western Europe as they had eastern Europe. The Patriarch's enemy is not the Jew.


gemoftheocean said...

Rita I weep for the Christians who are suffering... but the fanatical Muslims are not their "Friends." It REALLY frosted me when the church authorities would "save" an honored place for that scum Arafat. Was Arafat holding a gun to their heads to do so?

Physiocrat said...

The statement is in itself unexceptionable. But Christians have almost always lived as, at best, second class citizens, and usually, persecuted minorities, in countries where Islam has been the dominant religion.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The Patriarch I am sure is well aware of the problems of coexistence with Islam. His people have always suffered, they have been able to bear that suffering. They cannot bear what they are subjected to now both from both sides.

Karen, I think if the Jewish or Muslim inhabitants of the Vatican are suffering he might well object to a one religion state.

Michael Petek said...

I've taken a closer look at the Patriarch's message, and I'm really not surprised that it has come in for criticism.

He says that Israel ought to discard its identity as a Jewish state. That strikes me as the pot calling the kettle black. For to Israel's north east lies the Syrian Arab Republic. To the south west lies the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Beyond Egypt lies the Libyan Socialist People's Arab Jamahiriya. Then there's the United Arab Emirates.

Furthermore, the Patriarch seems to confuse the Jews as a religious group with the Jews as a nation.

Now,it will not do for the Patriarch to say that you can't have a religious state in the Holy Land. Canon Andrew White said a few years ago that the peace agreements have failed because they are a secular solution imposed by secular politicians in a land which is called holy.

Here's how you solve this.

You start by ruling out an Islamic state, because sharia insists in principle on an ascendancy for Muslims, with Jews and Christians relegated to second class dhimmi status.

You then get the Jews to look at their collective memory of the divine covenants. They should then find that God has given eternal sovereignty of Israel to David and his sons by an inviolable covenant (2 Chronicles 13:5). David is the principle of unity of the nation and the focal point of its identity.

When the penny drops with the Israelis that the Throne of David is over Israel by divine right and can never be destroyed in law, their earthly government will look to them more like a Regency than a Republic.

This is where the Christians of the Holy Land come in. Christians should have no problem giving allegiance to the Throne of David, because they know Who sits on it.

The question for the Muslims is now this: will you or will you not give your allegiance to Jesus Christ the King, the Son of David?

When they fire a 21-gun salute in His honour on the Temple Mount at Christmas time, I'll know they've got the message.

roydosan said...

Karen, if you are seriously going to defend the state of Israel then you are supporting a state that has killed and persecuted Catholics for the past 50 years simply because they are Arabs.

The acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state (in terms of religion as opposed to an Israeli nation in which Arabs and Jews are equal citizens) would be anathema to Palestinian/Israeli Christians - if they accept that then they are accepting that they must be second class citizens in a land where they have lived for 2,000 years. And as for radical Islam - when the Holy Father made his Regensburg speech who protected the Catholic Church in Gaza from attacks? Hamas. I won't defend Hamas on every score but they are not fundamentalist Muslims of the ilk of Al Qaeda, etc. They even have Christians who are affiliated to the party - I believe a Greek Orthodox Christian was elected in Gaza on a Hamas ticket.

The Patriarch's enemy is not the Jew but his enemy (and the enemy of all Catholics in Israel/Palestine) is the fundamentalist Zionism which would condemn them to servitude, impoverishment and a lifetime of state sanctioned persecution simply because of their faith. Jews, Muslims & Christians lived in relative peace up until 1948 they can do so in future.

Also, Michael the Holy See has never stated that the existence of Israel is part of God's plan for the world - that is a heresy propagated by the Christian Zionist movement.

Michael Petek said...

Roydona, you really have to stand corrected on this one!

The existence of other ethnically based states, Jewish or otherwise, is not unusual. Ireland gives privileged citizenship status to people of ethnic Irish origin, as does Germany.

I say "ethnic" because Israel is a secular state, not a religious one. You can as of right migrate to Israel and become a citizen if your parent or grandparent is a Jew, as long as you have not converted to another religion. This applies whether your mother is a Jew in the ethnic sense (in which case you are a Jew), or not *in which case you're not).

But a non-Jew can become a citizen by naturalisation. And they are not second-class citizens, as Arabs serve in government at all levels including the Knesset and the Supreme Court. One - Majalli Wahaba - was even the Acting President recently.

Your initial paragraph is nothing short of amazing. If Israel killed and persecuted Catholics for being Arabs there wouldn't be many Israel Arabs around. The truth of the matter is that Israel has been administering a harsh occupation for forty years in the West Bank and Gaza in connection with the ongoing state of war which began in 1948 as her neighbours launched a war of aggression against her with the publicly stated intention of destroying her.

The Palestinians did a very, very, bad thing recently. They elected a Hamas government which is committed to establishing an Islamic state instead of Israel. That means the justice of their cause now depends on the truth of the Islamic religion. From that point on I don't want to hear about token protection of Catholic churches by Hamas and Christians being elected on a Hamas ticket.

In an Islamic state if you convert from Islam to another religion they hunt you down and kill you. If you're a Jew and you become a Christian the worst you get is that your family sit shiva for a week and treat you as dead.

Your assertion that Jews, Christians and Muslims lived in relative peace until 1948 is factually wrong. Jews and Christians had to live with the legacy effect of their second-class dhimmi status which the Ottoman government relaxed under the Tanzimat reforms of the 19th century, and which Hamas are committed to reinstating.

Now for the point you made about my posting.

First, it is God who determines the times and the limits of every nation (Acts 17:26).

Second, the Christian Zionists and Pope John Paul II agree on this: that God is faithful to the Jewish people according to a covenant which can never be revoked. This is also the clear teaching of St Paul to the Romans in chapters 9 through 11. I believe it to be no coincidence that this teaching belongs to the means of Christian unity, given to the church whose Bishop is the principle of that unity. To see why, see my reader's letter at:

God's will for Israel is that they be a nation in their ancestral homeland. But where the Christian Zionists go wrong is that they assert that the sovereignty of the whole Land of Israel (in its biblical borders) belongs by divine right to the Jews.

The truth, I am certain, is that it belongs to the King. So the Palestinians can have a state of their own, distinct from Israel but united in a Dual Monarchy under the same Crown.

The most straightforward way of getting there is for the Jews and/or the Christians - and in Particular the Patriarch - to remember the covenant of David and witness accordingly.

In case you're wondering what God's plan is for the world and what Israel has to do with it, let me offer you the following.

Israel is the native land and people of our Saviour. When God took flesh He took it as a Prince of the Royal House of David.

Second, the land of Israel is the Patrimony of David, therefore everyone who belongs to it, whether naturally or by covenant, owes allegiance to his successor especially in view of His dynastic right. He is pleased with the Messianic Jews and with the Palestinian Christians for believing in Him, but is no more pleased with Palestinians being Muslims than He is with the unbelief of His own people.

Third, the ongoing purpose of Israel in the last days is to enjoy a primacy of honour within Christendom. At present this purpose is being frustrated by the unbelief of men, but it cannot remain so for ever.

Fourth, given that patriotism - piety toward one's native land and people - is a natural virtue, there is no doubt that Christ has it in the most excellent degree, and that He exercises it towards Israel and must be seen to do so the better to teach it to us.

But this is without prejudice to the infused supernatural virtues of justice and mercy, which He exercises as King without respect of persons.

See my website:

Anonymous said...

Michael Petek,
I haven't made a serious study of the standing of the VII, on the OT Covenant. Traditional Catholic teaching was that the Church was the New Israel, that the New and Eternal Covenant made in Christ's blood replaced the Old Covenant or that Old Testament/Covenant was a prophecy of the New Testament.

What nutters in America claim is that there has to be a restoration of a Jewish state before the Second Coming, this has never been Catholic Teaching.
What is Catholic teaching, is that all states have top act justly, whether it is the Vatican City State, Israel or anywhere else. What is so obvious is that Israel does not act justly towards its non-Jewish Christian and Islamic citizens or residents.

Michael Petek said...

Nick Jones - It is true that the Church has traditionally taught that she is the New Israel, but her relation as such to the Old Israel has never been satisfactorily expounded.

The Church is the Mystical Body of the Word made flesh. The Word took flesh as a son of Israel, and he is so because His Mother is an Israelite.

The excellence of His Person is so sublime that it is impossible for God to be, as Man, a son of Israel without also being her King. Now, one of the distinctive characteristics of a King is that he appears as the symbol of his nation's sovereignty and is therefore personally a Sovereign.

In a republic the people are the symbol of state sovereignty, and the President is the head of state without being a Sovereign himself as a King would be. In fact, it was only in the twentieth century that Kings began to be referred to as heads of state. It had previously been considered that, since the King personifies and embodies the nation he could not be the head of himself.

So, the Church is the Body of the King of Israel, who as such personifies Israel.

In his Encyclical Mystici Corporis Pope Pius XII (at #29-30) discusses the theme of replacement. His context is that the New Covenant made with the House of Israel replaced the Covenant of Moses in that the latter was made void by the death of Christ.

Its supersession is evident from the fact that the Temple at Jerusalem no longer exists, since the Romans destroyed it in AD70. It is no longer possible to offer the Levitical sacrifices.

It is important to distinguish the extinct Covenant of Moses (which concerned divine worship) with that of Abraham which establishes Israel forever as a people, and that of David which places his dynasty over Israel for ever.

That the Jews exist today as a distinct people demonstrates that the Covenant of Abraham remains in force. That the Monarchy remains in place is demonstrated by the fact that Jesus is the Messiah in possession forever of the regal office of David.

You say:

"What nutters in America claim is that there has to be a restoration of a Jewish state before the Second Coming, this has never been Catholic Teaching."

But Nick, the Jewish State is by divine providence there! Its very existence refutes its impossibility.

Book V Chapter 2.6 of Dr Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma has it that the Jews will recognise their Messiah before the end of the age and be saved as a nation. Since their exile from the Land of Israel is always a consequence of sin, their restoration to the fullness of faith should remove whatever stands in the way of the restoration of their political existence.

Since they have returned to the Land in a state of unbelief, their national restoration can be explained only in terms of the Divine Mercy and of the infinite merits of the King.

Interestingly I have discovered that St Faustina Kowalska died on 5 October 1938, which appears on the Jewish calendar as 10 Tishrei - the Day of Atonement. Pope John Paul II - the best Pope the Jews ever had - died on the vigil of the Feast of Mercy.

Next, you say:

"What is Catholic teaching, is that all states have to act justly, whether it is the Vatican City State, Israel or anywhere else. What is so obvious is that Israel does not act justly towards its non-Jewish Christian and Islamic citizens or residents."

I don't have any problem with this on its face. However, Israel seems to be the only state in the world of which it is said that its injustices render its very existence illegitimate or at least suspect.

As for Israel not acting justly towards its non-Jewish residents, I would say that this is small beer compared with the people's injustice to the King in what concerns their duty of allegiance to the Crown and their obedience to the Ten Commandments.

To believe the truth of Islam, let alone to profess it, is itself a very grave injustice to the King, so it is as well for Muslims that their ignorance of the true religion is excused if invincible. If any of them discover their duty to Him and do it, Hamas is likely to make after him and saw his head off.

I don't want to appear biased, so I might as well mention that most Israeli Jews, being secular, have forgotten God, while even those who are religious appear to have forgotten His faithfulness to David in maintaining in perpetuity the Monarchy as an institution which is over Israel here and now.

If I were Patriarch Michel Sabbah, I think that's where I would start. A little less talk about claiming one's own rights, and a little more talk about the King and His rights.

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