From the Vatican, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE MIDDLE EAST: COMMUNION AND WITNESS:
B. The Challenges Facing Christians
1. The Political Conflict in the Region
18. Political conflicts in the region have a direct influence on the lives of Christians, both as citizens and as Christians. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories makes daily life difficult with regard to freedom of movement, the economy and religious life (access to the Holy Places is dependent on military permission which is granted to some and denied to others on security grounds). Moreover, certain Christian fundamentalist theologies use Sacred Scripture to justify Israel’s occupation of Palestine, making the position of Christian Arabs even more sensitive.
For what it’s worth, the Vatican document does differentiate “Palestine” and Israel (section III.C.61), so it’s not using the Arab definition; nevertheless, it is telling that the bishops who drafted this document–presumably reflecting the official stance of the Magisterium–do not think that the Scriptures “justify” the return of the Jews to the Land and return of control of the Land to the Jews.
While Pope Benedict XVI has been generally very conciliatory towards the Jewish people, the Vatican has been involved in a grand ecumenical consolidation for several decades now. Cooperation between Christian brethren, when founded on both love and truth, is to be applauded, but Rome’s efforts have been more in the spirit of Constantine, who successfully enfolded Christianity into his government, creating an entanglement that rejected the Jewish believers (whom Constantine hated), rejected Christians who saw the dangers and didn’t get on board, and actually absorbed a great many pagan practices into the Church when it forciably absorbed the unregenerated pagans. Today, Roman Catholicism is attempting to revisit that great “victory” of “Christendom” by offering ecumenical outreach to every religion on the planet earth–including, of course, Islam.
From a pragmatic and political point-of-view, it must seem the wiser course to appease the Muslims, numbering at well over a billion and growing, rather than to support the Jews, numbering at just 16 million, especially when so mny Christians are at risk of persecution in Muslim countries. But is that what our Lord commanded us to do? To sacrifice truth for the sake of avoiding persecution? Of course not!
Our King is returning soon, ad when He does, He will not sit on St. Peter’s alleged throne in Rome, but on David’s Throne in Jerusalem. Nor was it the Vatican that the Eternal One said of, “He who touches you, touches the apple of my eye” (Zechariah 2:8),” but Israel. I hope that my Catholic friends will keep that in mind as we all experience the betrayals of our heirarchies, both secular and religious, and are called to stand firm in these Last Days.