Benedict is not welcome in the Holy Land in the
present circumstances", - said Archbishop
highest ranking native Palestinian Christian
clergyman in Jerusalem, after it was announced in
Israel that the head of the Church of Rome will
begin his May pilgrimage to the Holy City with
obeisance to the Jewish Holocaust Memorial ‘Yad
"We are not against the Pope’s
visit to Yad
Vashem, but before
expressing solidarity with the Jews, he should show
solidarity with the Christians of Palestine. We have
our own tragic memories; our
Yad Vashem is in
Gaza", said the Archbishop, and then added: “let the
Pope begin his visit with Gaza first”.
Tall and fortyish, blue-eyed, of
commanding presence, the Galilean-born Archbishop is
a citizen of Israel, an outspoken critic of Jewish
excesses and a most visible supporter of the One
Democratic State idea calling for full equality for
Jew, Christian and Muslim in the whole, undivided
Holy Land. Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna is a
man of his own mind: he
refused to meet
with President Bush, befriended the Muslim Mufti of
Pope Benedict when he was attacked for what was
considered anti-Muslim talk. Now he expresses the
feelings of many Palestinian Christians, this oldest
Christian community in the world. While the Church
of Rome was established by Christ’s apostle St
Peter, the Church of Jerusalem was established by
Christ Himself. In many villages and towns of the
Holy Land memories of the Saviour’s presence still
linger. The majority of Jerusalem Christians belong
to the Archbishop’s Orthodox
church, while a minority are Catholic.
Regarding the papal visit, the
Catholics and the Orthodox are of one mind. Before
the Gaza war, Father Manuel
Musallam, head of the
Roman Catholic Church in the Gaza,
it is Gaza’s right not to die, and if it dies it
will be in the battlefield.
The Catholic believers, priests
and monks of the Holy Land forwarded the Pope a
secret letter calling on him to postpone his visit
to some future time. The Vatican read the letter but
decided to disregard it. Now, while the blood shed
by Jews in Gaza is still warm, Israel will certainly
portray this visit as a sign of papal approval.
“If the Pope wants to come to the
Holy Land, he should begin the visit by coming to
the local Catholic church in Gaza", said Archbishop
Theodosius Atallah Hanna. "The church was denied
visits by the priests and bishops,
Christians were unable to worship in Jerusalem and
Bethlehem. At first, the Pope should meet
Christians, who carry the light of Christ in the
darkness of Israeli occupation. Otherwise, this is
not a visit to us, but a visit to Israel, an item on
the Pope’s agenda vis-à-vis the Jewish
organizations. We ask the Pope to speak for the
people of Palestine, for Palestinian Christians are
part and parcel of Palestine. Palestinian Christians
suffer together with their Muslim brothers. Let the
Pope advocate our cause”, said he.
Many Palestinian Christians feel
that the Vatican has become a plaything of Jewish
intrigues. Why does the Vatican spend so much effort
trying to woo and please the Jews? Is not the Church
of Rome still an independent body? Why
is the See of St Peter
heeding a Jewish veto even regarding its own church
The Pope’s visit to the Holocaust
Memorial is troubling.
The Museum adjacent to Memorial
contains some rude defamation of the late Pope Pius;
and the Jews have refused to remove it.
Even worse, the Holocaust is used
to justify mass murder in Gaza; coming first to
vaShem sends a wrong symbol of accepting
Jewish superiority over Christendom.
Moreover, the Holocaust Memorial
is a religious symbol, an idol of a new heathen,
Its boss Dr Judah Bauer has
openly denied God and the Creation, while its
previous boss is considered a war criminal and his
extradition is being sought.
Tom Segev, a prominent
Israeli writer, correctly said that the Holocaust
has become "an object of worship." Abraham
Foxman, head of the
Anti-Defamation League has declared: “The Holocaust
is a near successful attempt on the life of God's
Chosen children and, thus, on God himself”.
We know of a near-successful attempt on the life of
God’s Son, and thus on God Himself, and it took
place in Jerusalem, on Calvary.
Yad va-Shem is a
pretender, a place of idolatry.
Abraham refused to pay obeisance to idols -- why
can’t the Pope follow his lead?
The forthcoming visit of the Pope
was engendered by a ruse: traditionalist Bishop Msgr.
Williamson was re-communicated with the Church, and
at the same time his interview regarding the Jewish
holocaust was aired. The scandal was enormous. If
Williamson were to blaspheme Christ and the Church
he would be applauded for his free mind; as things
are, the Pope was forced to beg forgiveness of his
"elder brothers the Jews," and even depart on this
Canossa-like trip with its scheduled meetings with
Israeli war criminals.
In Palestine, the Pope and the
Catholics may learn a thing or two from the Church
of Jerusalem. Despite its minority position in the
Jewish state, the Orthodox Church is still free and
un-subverted. Its theology is shiningly, implacably
triumphalist; we believe
in Christ and in victory of Orthodoxy as we
celebrated it last Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent.
Our Church is universal and catholic, for we of
Jerusalem and Moscow, Antioch and Constantinople are
joined by one communion, though we do not have a
single shepherd. We have no elder brothers; we have
no Zionists in our midst. We have no special
relations with Jews – unless they want to join. We
reject heresies, and we do not hesitate to
anathematise heretics, including the popes of Rome
who went too far in their desire to submit to
worldly powers. Our Church does not seek better
public relations, she
does not change her rules in a vain attempt to
attract more worshippers. She venerates icons, but
does not bow down to idols.