The Holy See and the Holy Places
January 20, 2007
The first crusade to capture the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims, launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II, may seem like ancient history to most, but to the Vatican, with it relentless purpose and millennial views, the ownership of Jerusalem has never been off the agenda.
Ever since the eventual failure of the Knights militant, the Church has waged relentless political and spiritual warfare for possession of the Holy Places. The profoundly complex history of this war defies simple description here, but its energizing principle is profoundly simple : the false claim of Christian primacy for the Bishop of Rome.1
Tactics have changed according to century and circumstance - they have certainly adapted magnificently to the modern trend towards pious platitudes about freedom of religion, peace and justice - but the ultimate goal has never changed, and never will until victory or doomsday.
To this, and every other end, the Vatican invokes tradition, custom, and previous judicial decisions to establish ever-more demanding and encroaching treaties and agreements with civil authorities under a voluminous spiritual cloak of piety, peace, ecumenism and universal brotherhood which amply conceals their very temporal and millennial aspirations to universal power and solo sovereignty over the entire world, supposedly in the name of 'Jesus Christ.'
And the epicentre of that world is not Rome but Jerusalem.
The Holy See tests, strains and violates the terms of such treaties, accords and agreements until the 'other party' finally withdraws, or suspends negotiations, or fails to translate into law, thus drawing all the odium onto itself, while the unparalleled political, religious and media clout of the Vatican exerts pressure in all the right places and also ensures that a pervasive odour of sanctity is maintained throughout the entire process.
Despite her sanctity-ridden pleas for peace and justice for both Israelis and ‘Palestinians,’ the Vatican’s actions are calculated to sow dissension and strife. They demonstrate that her true aim is the weakening and eventual demise of the State of Israel. This scenario may seem farfetched, but only to those whose minds are dim to the pattern of history. In fact, it was only to be expected! After all, there can't be two rival claimants for the title of 'Representative of God on Earth.'
In her dealings with Israel, we see encapsulated the timeless animating principles of the Vatican’s will to power: there is no deception she will not entertain, there is no hypocrisy she will not tolerate, there is no calculated lie she will not tell, there is no pledge she will not break, and there is no friend she will not betray in her relentless campaign to establish ‘spiritual’ hegemony over the entire world. In the case of Jerusalem, the goal is a legally enforceable international religious status for the city, which will of course require the oversight of a religious institution, which will of course be none other than herself. 2
This analysis merely touches on the Vatican’s methods of manipulation and deception honed to razor-sharp effectiveness through the collective and successive efforts of the most peerless practitioners of power the world will ever know.
To the generations that grew up 'not knowing Pharaoh,' these statements may appear absurd, or sectarian, or even a hate-filled diatribe, but my response would be, in the emotive language of which the Vatican is so enamoured…the blood of countless multitudes of humanity ‘crieth out from the ground’ for justice.
The Vatican’s calculated violations of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between Israel and the Holy See, that paved the way for the subsequent establishment of full diplomatic relations, provide an excellent illustration of these time-honoured tactics. Article 11, section 2, reads:
"The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that, owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders."
A selection of inflammatory statements masked by token gestures to Israel, pious platitudes, and faux sincerity:
Letter to US Aide from Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem
“Our Dream” JERUSALEM, APRIL 14, 2002 Zenit.org
Here is the letter that patriarchs and heads of churches gave U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday. "Justice and peace must kiss each other." (Psalm 85:10)
We, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem, representing the four families of churches...are very concerned about the present situation in Palestine and Israel, and about this very difficult time in our history.
We write you this letter expressing our appreciation for the American administration and for its role in trying to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict along with the European Union, Norway and Russia.
…We want to express the symbiotic relationship between the Israelis and Palestinians in this land. We want security for the Israelis and justice and freedom for the Palestinians. We see that security of Israel is dependent upon justice for the Palestinians.
The Arab population in the region and elsewhere are now-a-days hostile to Israel because of the Palestinian cause. Since the Palestinian cause is the core problem of the Middle East conflict, the Arab world will become friendly with Israel once it is solved in a just way, accepting Israel’s existence in the Middle East.
But in order to get to that point, justice must be implemented according to international legitimacy as represented by UN resolutions 242, 338, and 1397 which call for a political solution. This means that the principle of land for peace ought to be implemented.
The Israeli occupation in all its forms must end and Arab land must be returned so the State of Palestine can exist within the 1967 borders. The Israeli settlements must be dismantled, the Palestinian right of return must be fairly addressed and there must be a shared Jerusalem for the two peoples...
Islamic-Catholic Panel’s Declaration on the Holy Land
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 15, 2002 Zenit.org
What has happened and is still happening in the Holy Land cannot leave anyone indifferent. Muslims, Christians and Jews, along with all peace-loving persons and men and women of good will, are called to common action in order to put an end to this terrible tragedy and to work together towards establishing a just and lasting peace. Accordingly:
We call for an immediate cease-fire, and the withdrawal of the war machine, so as to save human lives, especially those of innocent people, in particular children, women and the elderly.
We appeal for an end to the destruction of property, whether dwellings or other buildings, and the uprooting of plantations and the destruction of other means of livelihood. We appeal for respect for the rights of civilians in a war situation; nobody should be prevented from access to water, food, medical care, and all the necessities of life. We condemn the denial of such access being used as a weapon in the conflict...
Bishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, Secretary, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Professor Dr. Hamid A.al-Rifaie, President, International Islamic Forum for Dialogue
A Message to the Christians of the Holy Land from the
visiting Bishops of Europe and North America
JERUSALEM, JAN. 17, 2003 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
To our Christian brothers and sisters of the Holy Land; To His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch, the president, and their Excellencies, the members of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land; To their Beatitudes, the Greek and Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem, and their Excellencies, the bishops and heads of Churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land;
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor 13:13).
A year ago, you shared with us your sufferings and spoke of your yearnings for justice and peace. To our great sorrow, as we return a year later, we have heard not of greater peace and hope, but only of even more violence and deeper despair.
Security measures have become more oppressive; unemployment has increased; poverty of body, mind and even spirit is ever greater. We have also witnessed people's dread and dismay at the threat of war in Iraq...
...Last year we said, "The present cycle of violence is a tragedy for everyone. It is profoundly wrong to keep a people under occupation; it is abhorrent to hold millions of men, women and children confined in one enormous jail. It is likewise morally reprehensible to take vengeance or undertake resistance with random attacks on innocent people." The continuing violence, in so many different forms, indicates to us: something is profoundly wrong.
Pope John Paul's words a year ago are confirmed by the sad story of the last twelve months:
No one can remain indifferent to the injustice of which the Palestinian people have been victims for more than fifty years. No one can contest the right of the Israeli people to live in security. However, neither can anyone forget the innocent victims, on both sides, who fall day after day under the blows of violence. Weapons and bloody attacks will never be the right means for making political statements to the other side. Nor is the logic of the law of retaliation capable any longer of leading to the paths of justice...
Appeal by European and American Bishops in Holy Land
Four-Day Event Ends With a Call for Solidarity
JERUSALEM, JAN. 15, 2004 Zenit.org
Here is the appeal made today by European and American bishops at the end of their four-day meeting in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
"Not Walls, But Bridges!"
We, Catholic Bishops from Europe and the Americas, came here to demonstrate the solidarity of Catholics throughout the world with the Church of the Holy Land. For the third time in as many years, we have come in friendship for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, Christian, Jew and Muslim alike. We have seen the violence suffered by both communities: the attack against Israelis in Gaza and the collective punishment of Palestinian citizens. We express our condolences for the deaths that have occurred during our stay and affirm our opposition to all bloodshed…
"The Holy Land does not need walls, but bridges!" Pope John Paul II, 16 November 2003
We have seen the devastating effect of the wall currently being built through the land and homes of Palestinian communities. This appears to be a permanent structure, dividing families, isolating them from their farmland and their livelihoods, and cutting off religious institutions. We have had an experience of the frustration and humiliation undergone every day by Palestinians at checkpoints, which impede them from providing for their families, reaching hospital, getting to work, attending their studies and visiting their relatives. [See The Bishops and the Suicide Bomber]
We deplore the fact that, despite visible efforts, some priests, seminarians, sisters, brothers, and lay personnel are being denied or are having difficulties in obtaining visas and residence permits to study and work in Israel and the Palestinian territories. These constitute genuine impediments to the Churches' capacity to carry out their mission at the service of the people of the Holy Land. This is especially regrettable given that the State of Israel and the Holy See have just marked ten years since the signing of their Fundamental Agreement.
We are also concerned about the written notices given to pilgrims by the Israeli authorities on arrival in the Holy Land, making it difficult for them to visit areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority, including many of the Holy Places of the Christian faith…
Christmas Message of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
“There Seem to Be Prospects of Peace” JERUSALEM, DEC. 21, 2004 Zenit.org
Here is the Christmas message of Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem, presented today at a press conference held in the patriarchate's headquarters.
"I am listening. What is God's message? God's message is peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84:9).
"…Palestinian leaders are now preparing for their elections with great calm and have adopted plans for peace. Israeli leaders are invited to do likewise by putting an end to their military interventions and by stopping the construction of the wall as well as the hunt for the wanted, which only increases the number of prisoners and dead. Peace cannot be held hostage to those who still see violence as a means of obtaining justice and peace.
For its part, the wall of separation will really never separate or protect. Quite to the contrary, it will only increase hate, ignorance of the other, and, therefore, hostility toward the other and, as a further consequence, violence and insecurity. What is needed is a search, in all humility, for the underlying causes of the violence. In all humility and sincerity, the cries of the poor and the oppressed must be heard. Ending the oppression and the humiliation of the Palestinians would at the same time put an end to the fear and insecurity of the Israelis. It would also put an end to those who are exploiting the attendant oppression and the poverty…
Vatican to U.N. on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Address the Problem of the Fundamental Injustice VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2006 Zenit.org
Here is the address delivered Thursday by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, before the Fourth Committee on Agenda Item 83: "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East."
"...In the hope that the many problems of the region will finally be resolved by negotiation and dialogue, my delegation further underlines that a lasting solution must include the status of the holy city of Jerusalem. In light too of the numerous incidents of violence and challenges to free movement posed by the security wall, the Holy See renews its support for internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities” (A/RES/ES-10/2).
Christmas Message of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Our Fundamental Need Is for Peace, Justice, Freedom JERUSALEM DEC. 20, 2006
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
"...This year again, Christmas is coming to Bethlehem amid the same circumstances of death and frustration, with the Wall and the checkpoints on the ground and in the hearts. The occupation and deprivation of freedom on one side, and fear and insecurity on the other, continue as before. Gaza remains a big prison, a place of death and of internal Palestinian dissension...
"...Today, life in Bethlehem and its surrounding area has become very difficult to endure, in spite of the numerous initiatives of solidarity that have come from the outside. Yes, we are in need of solidarity, and we are grateful for all the messages of brotherhood we have received from around the world. But our fundamental need is for peace, justice, freedom, and an end to the occupation.
"...They must listen to the voice of the oppressed in this Holy Land, to the voice of those who have died, of those who are still threatened by death and humiliation, those on whom they think they can impose death or humiliation in order to assure the security of the other party.
Michael Sabbah, Latin Patriarch, Jerusalem
Order of Malta Seeks Statute to Protect Jerusalem 2
ROME, JAN. 10, 2007 Zenit.org
The leader of the Order of Malta is asking for an international statute that would allow pilgrims from all over the world to enter Jerusalem. Grand Master Fra' Andrew Bertie made that request in Rome on Jan. 4 in his annual address to the 96 countries accredited to the Order.
He mentioned "the different reflections that have taken place over many years on the problem of the holy sites, reminding in particular of the Holy See's position on Jerusalem: city of the three religions, which at the same time is the homeland of two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, patrimony of humanity."
"It is appropriate, therefore, to give it a special status, guaranteed at the international level," he noted. "Jerusalem must be a permanent site of search for peace and reconciliation between religions, peoples and cultures."
Israel to restart negotiations with the Holy See
TEL AVIV, Nov. 28, 2006 AsiaNews.it Arieh Cohen
In Israel, confirmation is available of the surprise statement of Israeli diplomats, at a press conference they convened in Rome yesterday (Monday, 27 November), that Israel and the Holy See have agreed to hold negotiating sessions of their "Bilateral Permanent Working Commission" in December and in January...
It is not known precisely what caused the Government's sudden change of attitude, though it is understood that the Vatican had never given up on its steady (though characteristically discreet) diplomatic efforts.
Furthermore, it has often been reported in the media that both the American Catholic Church and influential components of the U.S. Government - at the Department of State, in the Congress, and in the White House itself - have been encouraging Israel constantly to make sure it is faithful to its international commitments vis-à-vis the Holy See and the Catholic Church.
Among others, also a recently established private, U.S.-based, organization ("The Church and Israel Public Education Initiative") has also begun its work of informing Americans of the significance for them, both as Catholics and as Americans, of the developing relationship between the Catholic Church and Israel - a relationship based on, and defined by, the Fundamental Agreement...
FIVE YEARS after signing the Fundamental Agreement with Israel, Cardinal Jean Luis Tauran, Vatican Foreign Minister, presented the Holy See's Position on Jerusalem to the "Symposium of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences on the state of Jerusalem", 25 Oct. 1998.
"...This cause of the Holy City has long been at the center of the Holy See's concerns and one of its top priorities for international action, ever since the Jerusalem question existed.
"...I think it is important to clarify from the very start that when we speak of Jerusalem the distinction often made between "the question of the Holy Places and the question of Jerusalem" is unacceptable to the Holy See. It is obvious that the Holy Places derive their meaning and their cultic and cultural uses from their intimate connection with the surrounding environment, to be understood not merely in terms of geography but also and most especially in its urban, architectural and above all human community and institutional dimensions.
"...From the references to historical events, particularly those of the last fifty years, there emerges what is commonly referred to as the "political dimension" of Jerusalem in a complex of situations which have arisen regarding territorial control and the actions carried out to gain such control. The concern expressed in the interventions of the Popes and in other documents of the Holy See could not and cannot overlook this aspect.
"It is ever present, first, in order to prevent the Holy City becoming a battlefield and later to ensure that it does not become, as is the situation today, a case of manifest international injustice. The situation today has been brought about and is maintained by force.
The Holy See has spoken out on this and will continue to speak out clearly, without mincing words and consistently adhering to the position of the majority within the international community, as expressed above all in the pertinent United Nations Resolutions.
"Since 1967, a part of the City has been occupied militarily and subsequently annexed.
In that part of the City are to be found most of the Holy Places of the three monotheistic Religions. East Jerusalem is illegally occupied. It is therefore wrong to claim that the Holy See is only interested in the religious aspect or aspects of the City and overlooks the political and territorial aspect...
SEVEN years after signing the Fundamental Agreement with Israel, the Holy See signed a Basic Agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The following letter from the American Jewish Committee rightly expressed their legitimate concerns at the Holy See's ongoing deceptions:
AJC Letter to Vatican Protests Accord with Palestinians
February 17, 2000 - NEW YORK
The American Jewish Committee has protested to the Vatican both the substance and timing of the Basic Agreement the Holy See signed Tuesday with the Palestinian Authority.
"We fear that this agreement could signal a setback in carefully nurtured positive Catholic-Jewish relations," AJC President Bruce M. Ramer and Executive Director David A. Harris wrote in a letter to Angelo Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State.
"Specific references to Jerusalem in the Agreement's Preamble constitute an ill-timed and gratuitous intervention by the Holy See in a matter that is central to ongoing, direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," stated the AJC letter.
"The reassertion of long-standing Vatican policy regarding Jerusalem in an accord that essentially was intended to assure protections for Christian holy sites under Palestinian control, is a most unfortunate development that may further complicate an already sensitive peace process,” wrote Messrs. Ramer and Harris.
"By linking itself so closely with the position of the Palestinian Authority, just weeks before Pope John Paul II is scheduled to make his historic pilgrimage to the region, the timing of this agreement makes it even more egregious."
The AJC leaders also noted in their letter that Israel, since, has guaranteed open access to holy places of all faiths in Jerusalem.
They further pointed out that the Preamble contradicts the six-year old Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.
Article Eleven, Section Two of the Israeli-Vatican accord states that the Holy See "...is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders."
Messrs. Ramer and Harris concluded: "Clearly, the final political status of Jerusalem is a 'temporal conflict,' the resolution of which the Vatican had pledged to leave to the principal parties – Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
While the Vatican laments for the ‘Palestinians’ and 27 Bishops from Europe, Canada, and the USA visit Gaza to show solidarity with its people, their permanent man on the ground, the Custodian of the Holy Places, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzabella, complains that the Palestinian Authority is doing “little or nothing” to stem the violence and humiliation that Christians suffer at the hands of Muslims, a statement starkly illustrating the fact that the Vatican is more concerned for its overarching policy than for the lives of its ‘little flock.’
1 The Christian primacy of the Bishop of Rome is demonstrably false and will be proven so in future posts.
2 For an analogous situation we have only to consider the Vatican's spearheading of the ecumenical movement, the aims of which were, ostensibly, the promotion of worldwide unity among religions through greater cooperation and improved understanding. Unlike Eastern Christendom, the Western denominations seemed oblivious to the fact that the Vatican, in all its long history, had never willingly ceded one scrap of authority or power. Only now, 42 years after Unitatis Redintegratio, and with the advantage of hindsight, can we see the results of this brilliantly designed and orchestrated ecumenical campaign - the Pope is publicly hailed as the single 'voice' of Christianity while all around his throne lie the bloodied remnants of the Reformation.
3 The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta are the most important of the military orders of the Church. They fought in the Crusades and thus have an established and abiding interest in the fate of Jerusalem. This statement is blatantly false: “The leader of the Order of Malta is asking for an international statute that would allow pilgrims from all over the world to enter Jerusalem.” I know from personal experience that, for the past year at least, there is unrestricted access to Jerusalem. The only 'restricted' site is the Temple Mount and that is, ironically, off-limits only to Jews. Just who are these ‘pilgrims’ to whom Fra’ Bertie refers?
Some interesting reading:
The Holy See's Policy on Jerusalem
Cardinal Jean Luis Tauran, Vatican Foreign Minister, 10/25/98
Fundamental Agreement between Israel and the Holy See
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
27 Bishops make solidarity visit to Gaza
Latin Patriarchate, 01/13/07
The Custody must be doubled in the Holy Land
Sandro Magister, Chiesa, 01/17/07
The Bishops and the Suicide Bomber
Don Kenner, Catholic Friends of Israel, 01/28/04
Israeli Foreign Minister launches violent and vulgar attack on Pope
AsiaNews.it - an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, 07/25/05
Holy See responds to Israel's specious accusations
AsiaNews.it - an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, 07/26/05
Israel’s attack on the Pope a smokescreen for abandoning talks with Holy See
AsiaNews.it - an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, 07/26/05
Israel's war against the Hospice of the Daughters of Charity
AsiaNews.it - an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, 03/17/06
Israel betrayed by Vatican
Don Kenner, Catholic Friends of Israel, 02/23/04