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Israel, American Jewish Committee blast synod remarks

October 25, 2010

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, who had addressed the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, offered strong criticism of comments made near the synod’s conclusion by Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, the Melkite Greek Catholic bishop of Newton (Massachusetts).

During an October 23 press conference presenting the synod’s final message, Archbishop Bustros was quoted as saying, “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,” adding, “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.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon criticized the synod’s general tone.

“We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda,” he said. “The synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority.”

The synod’s final message-- contrary to some media reports-- did not include Archbishop Bustros’s remarks. The final message did state:

We have evaluated the social situation and the public security in all our countries in the Middle East. We have taken account of the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees. We have reflected on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live. We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance. With all this in mind, we see that a just and lasting peace is the only salvation for everyone and for the good of the region and its peoples.


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  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 25, 2010 9:58 AM ET USA

    It isn't up to the Jews to interpret Nostra Aetate as they are not part of the Church nor an arm of the Magisterium. The issue here is that if Catholicism is true Judaism in its traditional form has been superseded. Dialogue with some Jews only gets somwhere when we repudiate Christ and his Church. Either Christ is the Messiah and the Church is the New Israel or not. In this there is no middle ground.