Loading
Holy Land Church official finds no ‘anti-Zionist’ bias at synod
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Many Christians in the Middle East harbor “anti-Zionist” resentments, but those resentments are rooted political injustices and not theology, according to a top Church official in the Holy Land.

Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa said the tensions were reflected in the recent Synod for Bishops on the Middle East, but he rejected charges that the synod was biased against Israel.

"I don't think the Synod Fathers were taken hostage by anyone," he told the Italian newspaper Il Foglio Oct. 27. 
Father Pizzaballa is the Vatican-appointed custodian of the ancient Christian holy sites in Israel and Palestine. In an interview with the paper’s Vatican analyst Paolo Rodari, he responded to charges made by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon.

Ayalon charged that the synod had become an "important forum for political attacks" and was "taken hostage by an anti-Israeli majority."

"That the Arab world might have little sympathy for Israel is evident," Father Pizzaballa said, noting that 90 percent of Christians in the Middle East are of Arab origins. He called it a "normal thing" that this sentiment might surface "in some way" during the synod’s discussions.

But the synod's final message also included condemnations of  anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism and a reminder that Christians must study both the New and the Old Testaments, he said.

It is "not a given," that the synod fathers of the Middle Eastern world would write these words, he said.

Father Pizzaballa also pointed out that the synod’s final message condemned all forms of racism and “Islamaphobia,” and called Jews, Muslims and Christians to greater commitment to dialogue.

While individual bishops might express their opinions on these issues, only the final message of the synod reflects the official position of the assembled Church leaders, he stressed.

The synod’s message, Father Pizzaballa said, is “not the voice of the Vatican nor the Church.” It is rather "simply the voice of the synod fathers."

The synod’s final message offered little new with respect to Israel, he added. The gathering of bishops condemned Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine and any use of God's name to justify violence. These are positions "already expressed in the past” by Church leaders, he noted.

Accusations that the synod fathers harbor an “anti-Zionist” bias are misguided. Zionism, the belief that Israel has the right to a homeland in the territory promised to the Jews in the Bible, is a “Western category,” Father Pizzaballa said. “It is a way with which the West tries to describe a situation."

"That a certain anti-Zionism might be present also among Christians in the Middle East is evident,” he said. “But this anti-Zionism, if it exists, it does not have theological foundations. It is more than anything a sentiment motivated by the Israeli-Palistinian conflict. It is a reaction to a dramatic situation and in which immediate solutions are not seen"

The issue of anti-Zionism surfaced after remarks by Melkite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros of Newton, Mass. in the concluding press conference of the synod, Oct. 23. 

Archbishop Bustros said the biblical ideas of the “chosen people” and the “promised land” could not be used to justify “the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians." He added, "Sacred Scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine.”

Father Pizzaballa said the controversy reinforces the need for greater dialogue between Jews and Catholics and deeper study of the ways Scripture is interpreted in each tradition. Christians, he said, “are accustomed to making a spiritual and allegorical reading of the Scriptures and our reading does not always fit together with that of the Jews."

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
Oct
21

Liturgical Calendar

October 21, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 12:35-38

Gospel
Date
10/21/14
10/20/14
10/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Eph 2: 12-22
Gospel:: Lk 12: 35-38

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/21/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 12:35-38

Homily
Date
10/21/14
10/20/14
10/19/14