UPDATE: I owe the Melkite Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros an apology: when I wrote about his remarks at the recent Vatican Synod, I was relying on incomplete and inaccurate press reports, and did not fully understand his position. He explains his position here.
According to this report, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Cyril Bustros “then escalated the situation by declaring that the original promises made by God to the children of Israel ‘were nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people.'”
If this is accurate, then it must be said that in his haste to parrot the jihadist political agenda, Archbishop Cyril contradicts the Catholic Church’s teaching that “the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures” (Nostra Aetate 4). Moreover, God “does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle” (Nostra Aetate 4) — a reference to Paul the Apostle’s statement concerning the Jews that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
Ever since the beginnings of Arab nationalism, Christian Arabs have identified with Muslims politically and culturally, in what was at least initially an attempt to blunt the force of the jihad against them by creating a foundation for an accord that was not religious, and allowed Christians and Muslims to coexist on equal terms — a sharp departure from the institutionalized discrimination of dhimmitude.
But as the great historian Bat Ye’or has pointed out, this attempt was foredoomed, and indeed, it has already failed. This was because for Muslims Islam was always the heart of the Arab identity in any case — as was succinctly summed up by pioneering Arab nationalist Michel Aflaq: “Arab nationalism is Islam.” And as long as Islam continued to exist, the imperative to subjugate the Christians would eventually reappear, since it had not been reformed or rejected by any ulama. And so it has.
The Christian Arabs would have been much better off allying with their fellow dhimmis, the Jews. And indeed, only in Israel, alone among Middle Eastern countries, has the Christian population grown since 1948. As this report notes: “Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said it was absurd that the Jewish state had been condemned since Israel is the only country in the region where Christians are actually thriving. According to statistics he provided, there were some 151,700 Christians in Israel last year, compared with 132,000 in 1999 and 107,000 two decades ago.”
Yet the bishops in their synod this week single out only Israel for particular criticism, and was relatively silent about the jihad doctrine, the Arab states’ support for it, and its cardinal role in sabotaging any peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. It is shameful.
“Israel slams ‘political attacks’ by Catholic bishops,” from AFP, October 24:
JERUSALEM — Israel on Sunday slammed critical remarks made by Middle East Catholic bishops after a meeting chaired by Pope Benedict XVI as “political attacks” on the Jewish state.
“We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a statement.
“The synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority,” he added….
“Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable,” the synod said.
Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, head of the commission which drew up the statement, went one step further, saying: “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,” the Lebanese-born head of the Greek Melkite Church in the United States said, because the “promise” was “abolished by the presence of Christ.”
Ayalon said he was “especially appalled” at those remarks.
“We call on the Vatican to (distance) themselves from Archbishop Bustros’s comments, which are a libel against the Jewish people and the state of Israel and should not be construed as the Vatican’s official position.”…
I join that call.