Archbishop: Palestine is not Israel’s ‘promised land’

Sapa/AFP report:

Israel cannot claim Palestinian territory as its promised land citing the Bible to justify its occupation and the expulsion of Palestinians, a Catholic archbishop said.

Cyril Salim Bustros, head of the Greek Melkite Church in the United States, made his comments after the Middle East synod of Catholic bishops called on the United Nations to implement its resolutions and end Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

The synod’s final statement, drawn up by a commission headed by Bustros, also said that “recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable.

“On the contrary, recourse to religion must lead every person to see the face of God in others and to treat them according to their God-given prerogatives and God’s commandments, namely, according to God’s bountiful goodness, mercy, justice and love for us.”

Speaking at press conference, Butros said: “The theme of the promised land cannot be used as a basis to justify the return of the Jews to Israel and the expatriation of the Palestinians.”

“For Christians one can no longer talk of the land promised to the Jewish people,” he said, because the “promise” was “abolished by the presence of Christ.”

In the kingdom of God, which covers the whole world, “there is no longer a favoured people, a chosen people, all men and women of every country have become the chosen people,” the Lebanese-born Butros said.

Lebanon’s Daily Star adds:

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri hailed Sunday a call by Catholic bishops for the international community to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, while Israeli officials reacted angrily to the appeal.

The “participation [of Christian thinkers] in challenging the Zionist project is a necessity for Muslims not to be left alone in this confrontation, and for Arabism not to be restricted to Islam,” the Lebanese premier said in Beirut Sunday.

The bishops and patriarchs of the Middle East’s Catholic churches said at a Vatican synod on the Middle East over the weekend that Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or territorial claims.

“Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable,” said a final statement issued after a two-week synod chaired by Pope Benedict XVI.

The bishops’ statement also called on the international community to take “the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.”

Palestinians welcomed a call from the synod’s conclusions and highlighted the role of Christians in confronting the threat posed by Israel.

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6 thoughts on “Archbishop: Palestine is not Israel’s ‘promised land’

  1. Observer

    “there is no longer a favoured people, a chosen people, all men and women of every country have become the chosen people.”

    Beautifully said.

  2. David

    While any statement to counter the Zionist article of faith is welcome, it is doubtful that this synod will actually lead to a material change in the facts on the ground. Daily, the State of Israel infringes further on Palestinian rights, notably in Jerusalem and its region. With total impunity, since the US ( and, to a slightly lesser extent, Europe) upholds its right to do so.Sad to think that such a “first truth” as the brotherhood of man is rejected by the Zionists and their acolytes, yet the thrust of Israel’s policies is, and clearly always has been , to deny the full humanity of the Palestinians. The current incitement to Islamophobia is merely a new twist to a very old story , a cynical attempt to mask or justify the facts on the ground .It is, indeed, tragic that decent people in the US and elsewhere have not been continuously reminded by their religious and ethical “leaders” that peace requires justice , and that the search for justice requires all to accept the common humanity which comes to all by birth, and to reject the claims of religions or ideologies to define the better and the worse, much less to define “God’s people” and the ungodly… This is not a difficult point to get across, but few have even dared to raise it , from fear of accusations of anti-semitism. Can we hope for a new appeal to all to consider the synod’s view without the usual contrived claptrap from the ADL/AIPAC lot ? I think not, but would like to hope so.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    It’s a welcome development to see the bishops have the courage to make this stand. Now stand by for the Zionist/American financial broadside to make them haul down their colours.

  4. Murph

    This statement is totally contrary to Bible teachings. Gods promises to the Israeli people thru Abraham have not been voided by Christ and the land of Israel including Jerusalem is indeed there’s according to God, for God never brakes a promise. The plight of Christians in the middle east is simply due to the terrorist dogma in the Koran and the Catholic church just further empowers the terrorists to kill Jews and Christians as the Koran tells them to. I believe if Islam truly was a religion of peace it would strike all statements in the Koran that teaches them to hate Jews , Christians and all faiths that are non Islamic.

  5. Ahmed

    Stop reading a bunch of Islamophobes’ interpretations on the Qur’an. Where in the Qur’an does it state to hate Jews and Christians? Do you believe that when Muslims are oppressed we can’t fight the oppressor? The Prophet Muhammmad (SAW) lived harmoniously with the Jews but the Jews threatened him (SAW), his Ahlul Bayt (AS), and the Muslim community with attempted assassinations, refusal to exist with the Muslims, and war. And apparently that is justified because the Christian church recognizes Judaism as a divine faith, but when the Prophet (SAW), Ali (AS), and other Sahaba (RA) fought to protect themselves they are considered violent.
    And why are you targeting both Catholics and Muslims?

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