AJC Criticizes Special Vatican Synod Statement on Middle East

October 24, 2010 – New York – AJC is dismayed by the final communiqué of Catholic bishops gathered in Rome for the Vatican’s Special Assembly on the Middle East for its one-sided focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

« It is appalling that in their final statement of the Special Vatican Synod on the Middle East, the bishops did not have the courage to address challenges of intolerance and extremism in the Muslim countries in which they reside, and rather chose to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict their first focus » said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs. Rosen, one of only a select few Jews to have received the Papal Knighthood, was the lone Jewish representative to address the Special Assembly.

In the Synod’s final statement, Greek Melkite Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, declared “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.” The archibishop added: “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.”

Rosen responded, « The comments of Archbishop Bustros reflect either shocking ignorance or insubordination in relation to the Catholic Church’s teaching on Jews and Judaism flowing from the Vatican II declaration Nostra Aetate. That declaration affirms the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish People, which is inextricably bound up with the Land of Israel. We urge the Vatican to issue a clear repudiation of Archbishop Bustros’s outrageous and regressive comments. »

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