Sunday, June 6, 2010

Krauthammer on Israeli blockade; Bishops on Christians in Middle East

Why wouldn't a ship carrying humanitarian aid not subject itself to inspection at an Israeli port? Charles Krauthammer offers a grim explanation.

Today, June 6, the Vatican Information Service released the English- language summary of the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.  With all the political unrest in the Middle East we should always keep in mind that our first concern is for the effective witness of Middle Eastern Christians. The emigration of Christians from the Middle East is leaving the Church there terribly weakened.

Here are a few quotes. The emphases are mine: "In the Middle East, freedom of religion customarily means freedom of worship and not freedom of conscience, that is, the freedom to believe or not believe, to practice openly one's religion, privately or publicly, or to change one's religion for another. Generally speaking, religion in the Middle East is a social and even a national choice, not an individual one. To change one's religion is perceived as a betrayal of the society, culture and nation, which are founded, for the most part, on a religious tradition". For this reason "conversion to Christianity is perceived to be from self-interest and not authentic religious conviction. Oftentimes, the conversion of Muslims is forbidden by State law". ... In the meantime, Islamic extremism continues to grow in the entire area creating "a threat to everyone, Christians and Muslims alike". In this context of conflict, economic difficulties and political and religious limitations, Christians continue to emigrate. "International policies often pay no attention to the existence of Christians, and the fact that they are victims, at times the first to suffer, goes unnoticed. This is also a major cause of emigration".

Dialogue with the Jews is defined as essential, though "at times not without its obstacles" being affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Church hopes that "both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognised borders". The document firmly rejects anti- Semitism, underlining that "current animosity between Arabs and Jews seems to be political in character" and therefore foreign to any ecclesial discussion. Christians are asked "to bring a spirit of reconciliation, based on justice and equality of the two parties. The Churches in the Middle East also call upon all involved to take into account the distinction between religion and politics". The Catholic Church's relations with Muslims also have their foundation in Vatican Council II. ... "Often relations between Christians and Muslims are difficult, because Muslims make no distinction between religion and politics - the document states - thereby relegating Christians to the precarious position of being considered non-citizens, despite the fact that they were citizens of their countries long before the rise of Islam. The key to harmonious living between Christians and Muslims is to recognise religious freedom and human rights". Christians are called upon not to isolate "themselves in ghettos and a defensive and reclusive attitude which is sometimes seen in minority groups". ... In the conflict facing Middle Eastern countries, Christians are called upon to promote "the word of truth": This is "realistic. Although efforts on behalf of peace can be rebuffed, they also have the possibility of being accepted, considering that the path to violence, taken by both the strong and the weak, has led the Middle East to nothing but failure and a general stalemate". This situation is exploited by "the most radical elements in global terrorism". The contribution by Christians, "though requiring great courage, is nonetheless indispensable" even if "too often" Middle Eastern countries "identify Christianity with the West", bringing great harm to the Christian Churches. The document also analyses the strong impact of "modernity", which "to most Muslim believers is perceived to be atheistic and immoral and a cultural invasion, threatening them and upsetting their value-system". "At the same time, 'modernity' is the struggle for justice and equality, the defence of rights". ... "Christians have a special contribution to make in the area of justice and peace"; they have the duty to "courageously denounce violence no matter what its origin, and suggest solutions which can only be attained through dialogue", reconciliation and forgiveness. However Christians must "utilise peaceful means to insist that the rights of Christians be acknowledged by civil authorities". The document then examines the topic of evangelisation in a Muslim society which can only happen through witness: however, this must be "ensured through timely, external intervention". The charitable activities of Christian communities "towards all without distinction, to the poorest and those pushed to the periphery of society, represents the clearest way of spreading the Christian message".

In its conclusion, the document points out the "great concern for the present difficulties Christians are facing, yet, at the same time express a hope, founded on the Christian faith". ... For decades, the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, disregard for international law, the selfishness of great powers and the lack of respect for human rights have disrupted the stability of the region and subjected entire populations to a level of violence which tempts them to despair. Many - Christians for the most part - are emigrating elsewhere. In the face of this challenge and sustained by the universal Christian community, Christians in the Middle East are called to respond to their vocation of service to society". Believers are called upon to be "witnesses ... aware that faithfully witnessing to Christ can lead to persecution". The Instrumentum Laboris concludes: "'Do not be afraid, little flock'. You have a mission; the growth of your country and the vitality of your Church depend on you. This will only be achieved with peace, justice and equality for all citizens!"

PV-CYPRUS/VIS 20100606 (1570)

1 comment:

  1. The vicar of christ has already denounced the isreali action.As usual,you look to the republican right to continue your disobedience to the holy see.If you ignore the pope,the situation will only grow worse.The republican leadership will only continue to lead you further and further away from catholicism.,,rob