During the past several weeks, the Vatican has worked hard to achieve the dwarfing of Israel into the indefensible 1947 ceasefire lines.
Pope Benedict just met in Rome with the Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, hailing the recent United Nations’ resolution on Palestinian non-member statehood. “It is hoped that (the resolution) will encourage the commitment of the international community to finding a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, a Vatican statement said.
Abbas also met with the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. The Vatican applauded the UN General Assembly’s vote as “the juridical basis” for the Palestinian State.
Symbolically, the Palestinian Arab leader gave the Pope a mosaic of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem, with a note: “Abu Mazen, president of the State of Palestine”.
The day the United Nations voted to recognize the “Palestinian State”, the Vatican commented that “it is a propitious occasion to recall the common position that the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation expressed in the Basic Agreement of 15 February 2000, intended to support the recognition of a internationally guaranteed special statute for the City of Jerusalem”.
In the memorandum signed by Vatican officials and the PLO, an organization of Holocaust deniers now officially dedicated to the mass deportation of Israel’s Jews, the Catholic Church wants Israel relinquishing sovereignty at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
The Vatican-PLO agreement’s preamble on Jerusalem shows that the Vatican’s attitude on Israel’s capital is still stuck in the unforgivable rhetoric of the 1940s.
The Vatican’s call for internationalizing the city, recently repeated by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is as appalling as it is anachronistic.
Instead of cooperating with the Jewish state and recognizing that the only way to guarantee religious freedom is by maintaining the unity of Jerusalem under Israeli sovreignity, the Vatican embraces the cause of ending Jewish sovereignity.
This is the meaning of the Vatican’s support of the Palestinian Arab diplomatic terrorism at the United Nations.
The memorandum between the Vatican and the Palestinian Arabs includes a condemnation of “unilateral decisions and actions altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem”. Yet the most blatant unilateral act in recent years has been the illegal anti-Semitic project on the Temple Mount conducted by the Wakf, the Islamic religious trust.
The Catholic Church, which has now discovered “rights” in Jerusalem, was totally silent also from 1948-1967, when its representatives witnessed the systematic pillaging of the Jewish synagogues. At that time, the Vatican ambassador’s residence, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, provided a close look at the razing of over 40,000 Jewish graves in Judaism’s oldest cemetery.
“The Holy Land’s Churches unanimously support the Palestinian National Authority’s accomplishment” Mgr. Maroun Lahham, the Latin Patriarchal Vicar General in Jordan, just said in a statement to a Vatican news agency.
Then it was the turn of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who already welcomed enthusiastically the agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah, despite both the PLO and Hamas covenants’ call for the use of violence against the Jews: “For once the international community and the leaders of the nations had the courage not to be influenced by the pressures and to decide in conscience, without calculation. I am grateful and happy for this freedom”. Patriarch Twal, named by Pope Benedict XVI, was at the White House for a meeting with the US administration — as well as for the purpose of supporting the Palestinian bid at the UN.
Not to be outdone, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent a letter to US Congress warning against cutting aid to the Palestinians. Bishop Richard E. Pates, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, sent the letter in response to Congress considering a suggestion to cut aid after the U.N. vote.
Pates also urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “reinforce strongly the unequivocal opposition of the United States to the recommendations of the Levy Commission Report in all contacts with the government of Israel”.
A few days ago, William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, not only condemned the Israeli decision to build new houses between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, he also explained that Israel must render Jüdenrein the entire Judea and Samaria and evacuate “that 22 percent of Territories that are occupied and not ‘fought over’”.
Then 100 Christian leaders from Israel and the Palestinian areas promoted a document saying that “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity”. Among the signers one finds Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabbah, Monsignor Rafik Khoury (Latin Patriarchate Seminary), Sami El-Yousef (Pontifical Mission for Palestine) and Claudette Habash (General Secretary of Caritas, the most important Vatican humanitarian arm in the world).
Archbishop Antonio Franco just left his office as Vatican nuncio, or ambassador, in Israel. He will be remembered as the envoy who conducted the Catholic Church’s battle to clear the name of Pope Pius XII at Yad Vashem. The campaign was hailed as a success by the Vatican after the Israeli Holocaust museum agreed to replace a caption suggesting Pius XII did not do enough to stop the genocide of six million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II.
If in the wartime period the Vatican had taken a moral stand against Nazism, the outcome might have been different for the Jewish people.
That was 1943. By 2013, the Church should know better. Yet it seems that as was the case in World War II, the Vatican is again pursuing a joint cause with those who are pursuing the first state cleansed of the Jews since Nazi Germany.
Pope Benedict’s eagerness to recognize the Palestinian State before it has even yet arisen (and it is doubtful that it ever will arise) resembles the eagerness of another Pope, Pius XII, to recognize the Nazi regime four months after it was established.
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.