Saturday, 29 May 2010

Many catholics in Jerusalem have other views than the ones I've met :-)


I mean, seriously, one of the authors of the Kairos document - whose interview is reprinted in my previous blog post - meant that the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 683 was a second Pentecost. I am serious! A SECOND PENTECOST! (Boy, I wonder how my charismatic friends would have loved to hear THIS!) "In the end, we will send them [the Israelis] away just as we did to the crusaders", is another one of his pearls. WE. WE sent the Crusaders away. This is a dangerous over-identification, for a Catholic patriarch, I would remark.  

Emotions do run high in these parts of the world. I remember an argument I had about the Kairos document with a Norwegian journalist, on the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday. He told me that all Christian leaders have finally agreed that the world needs to boycott Israel until it ends the occupation. I replied, rather uncharitably, that if it had not been for the 'occupation', we may never have had the opportunity to go in this procession with palm branches. He wasn't going to argue much with me, but I found later on that none of the leaders actually signed the somewhat over-advertised Kairos (modeled on the South African one). In what can be called a clever PR-stunt, a short paragraph signed by the leaders of all churches in Jerusalem was attached to the text of the Kairos making it appear as if those leaders endorsed the document itself. The Norwegian journalist bought it. I didn't. Apparently, I was right. The paragraph simply stated that the leaders have heard the cry of their children and are hoping for peace and mutual understanding.

[Father De Gasperis, whose article I linked to the title of my blog post, published several articles in the Vatican journal Chiesa, e.g. The interesting story of Hebrew Catholics versus the ex-patriarch (I imagine they weren't too enthusiastic either...) can also be found in the Chiesa]

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

No comment, none at all...

An Interview with the Former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah
La VIE, journal HEBDOMAIRE FRANCAIS 01/04/2010 [April 4, 2010]
Translation from FRENCH
By Laurent Grzybowski

What is the situation for Christians in Palestine?
It is the same as for all Arabs in Palestine. Christians or Muslims, we are the same people, with the same culture and the same history. A nation that is in conflict with another nation. A nation that is living under military occupation has no need of compassion but of justice. In a very tense political context we are trying to cope with the same challenge. What does it mean to be a Christian? It is to be in a society, in a world that we have not chosen but has been given to us. Our vocation therefore is to be Christian in an Arab society which has a Muslim majority. This is a familiar experience to us, we have several centuries of history behind us.

However, today one speaks of anti-Christian persecution….Individual incidents between Muslims and Christians can take on a community dimension. In these cases there are mediators, families known for their wisdom and their authority, capable of resolving conflicts. I can bear witness to the fact that in Palestine, it never goes further than this. There have never been massacres or terrorist attacks against churches, never have I known an openly antichristian persecution. Even in Gaza, Christians are protected by Hamas, so often presented as a terrorist organization.

Is it the same situation in Iraq?
No, over there Christians are victims of violence and are killed because they are Christians. But it is a question of political not religious movements. Extremists hope to destabilize the country. Many Sunnis and Shiites have been killed for the same reasons. It does not help to accuse Muslims of all the evils. Working for peace and for justice in Iraq as elsewhere is the best way to avoid a mass exodus of Christians from the East. A political problem needs to find a political solution.

What do you say to those who defend the idea of a clash of civilizations?
There is a clash but it is not religious or cultural. It is political. The West treats the East and those who live there, whether they are Christians or Muslims, as lesser beings. As long as there is this relationship between the dominant and the dominated, we will never escape the spiral of violence. The roots of global terrorism are rooted here. The East is not free to choose its destiny; it is subjected to Western dominance. The problem is not Islam, but the confrontation between East and West. The history of colonialisation has given way to another kind of colonialisation, more latent, but no less real.

Are you not afraid of the expansion of Islam?
It is a fantasy fed by those who do not understand the East, in general, and Islam in particular. As long as the Palestinians feel oppressed, all Muslims globally will feel solidarity with them and are capable of creating disruption from within the societies in which they live. We need to put an end to the relationship of strength against weakness between the West and the Muslim world and instead focus on affirmative education in citizenship and respect for one’s neighbour. We need to develop a culture of engaged coexistence, learn to know one another and live and act together in unity.
Source: Middle East Monitor

PS. I will comment. Hamas imposed Sharia laws in Gaza in 2009. The protection (dhimma) Mr. Sabah speaks of is the Q'uranic requirement to protect the People of the Book (Jews and Christians).
However, it seems from Sabah's words that Muslims are protecting Christians from the Jews - of course! As to the treatment of dhimmis in Sharia courts - you can surely look it up yourselves.