Israel illegally demolishes East Jerusalem property owned by the Catholic Church

JERUSALEM – The head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land protested Tuesday against Israel’s demolition of a church-owned property in annexed east Jerusalem, saying it eroded chances for peace.

“This act is against the law, against justice and against humanity, against any ideology upon which peace can be built and increases segregation and hate,” Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Tawwal told journalists at the site of the demolition.

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Editor’s note: This is the kind of thing that happens when the Vatican “snubs” Israeli Prime Minister  Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu – as they did when Bibi’s planned meeting with Pope Francis was recently canceled, on very short notice.

Let’s hope the Israeli’s don’t find out about the Vatican’s secret nuclear weapons program. (Ooops!)

JPII papal biographer and Catholic writer/speaker George Weigel makes a good point

Weigel, who is known for his biographical work on John Paul II’s life, centered his discussion on the late Pope’s visit to the Holy Land in 2000.

During his visit to the Holy Land, Pope John Paul II “wanted to carry the entire Church to the places of salvation history,” Weigel explained, so that the Church could viscerally encounter “the stuff of God become man, God entering into history for the salvation of the world.”

He explained that in the historical biblical places of the Holy Land “real people … became friends of Jesus of Nazareth and they met him at Easter and after as the risen Lord.”

From their friendship with Christ, “they went out to change the world.”

Pointing to the first Pope, Peter, Weigel noted that the apostle was “radically transformed” by his encounter with Christ and went from “a probably illiterate, probably smelly guy from east of nowhere, as the world then understood so,” to the first Pope and recipient of “the world’s greatest tombstone.”

“What the Catholic Church bears,” Weigel said “is the Truth of the World,” and it is this encounter with the Truth through Christ that transformed the world.

In order to re-introduce the world to the “Bible’s view of the human story,” he said, “John Paul II carried us all back to Jerusalem, back to the Holy Land.”

“He carried us back to the Holy Land,” so that we would be inspired and tell our story of “friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This reintroduction to “a biblical optic on the world, I think helps us to meet the challenge of coldness” in the world, Weigel continued.

A biblical worldview “helps us meet the challenge of unreality,”  posed by “a culture of a new gnosticism where everything is plastic and malleable, anything goes.”

However, even in the midst of challenging times, those who know Christ have reason to hope.

“Christians are the people who know how the story is going to turn out. Portrayed in the 21st chapter of Revelation, the end of the story, the end of the human story, is the wedding feast of the Lamb,” Weigel said.

“That is why we too, can be not afraid, and we to on with business as Pope John Paul taught us.”

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“Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water…”

hand

Listen to the video of the 1971 hit song
while you read about
the latest archaeological find in the Holy Land.

Take the Virtual tour – Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre (Tomb of the Risen Christ)

Visit the official site

Editor’s note: A high speed internet connection is best. There’s a lot of visual data for your computer to download and manipulate.

Late vocation: The 80-year-old woman who discovered the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

The contemporary historian Eusebius recorded that Helena converted to Christianity around 312, after her emperor son, inspired by a flaming cross, had destroyed his rivals at the Milvian Bridge. She became celebrated for her charity to the poor and to prisoners.

Helena was almost 80, however, when, in 327-8, she made her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jerusalem had been desecrated in 130 by the Emperor Hadrian, who had built a pagan temple on the supposed site of Jesus’s tomb near Calvary.

Helena ordered its demolition, and then selected a spot close by to start digging for relics.

Three crosses were found, and the true one identified when a sick woman was cured after touching it. Nails and a tunic were also discovered.

While in the Holy Land, Helena supervised work on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and on the Church of the Mount of Olives.

She died soon after her return to Rome, and was buried on the Via Labicana.
Her remains are now in the Vatican Museum.

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Bible Maps On-Line


Visit the site

Priest: “I expected more from the only state claiming to be a democracy in the Middle East.”


French Catholic church Maison D’Abraham in east Jerusalem is accusing the Israel Police of failing to investigate robbery and harassment complaints filed by the church recently.

“The Israel Police are not protecting us,” the church’s director, Father Michael O’Sullivan, told Ynet. “Only in the past month we had two incidents with a large Volvo truck which intentionally hit our entrance gate and escaped. After the second incident we filed a complaint with the police, but nothing happened. They didn’t even send a policeman here to look into our claims.”

Maison D’Abraham, a serene oasis in the midst of the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, was founded in 1964 at the request of Pope Paul VI during his visit to the Holy Land. In his vision, the pope saw the church as a place which would fulfill the needs of Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem without financial means.

Every year, thousands of tourists from all around the world visit the church, which also serves as a guesthouse. Recently, however, the church and its tenants have been suffering from harassment and theft.

According to Father O’Sullivan, the recent incidents are only a few examples of the lawlessness the church’s tenants are forced to live with. “We suffer from burglaries, theft and harassments, but the police are not doing anything or just pretending to be doing something. About two years ago we caught a thief red-handed, turned him into the police, but he was released the next day. Two months later he began stealing again.”

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On Islam and the Crusades

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Consider the situation in the Holy Land 100 years before Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 for a crusade to liberate it. It was part of the territory ruled by the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim, whose cruelties Christian and Muslim historians alike recorded.

Fourteenth-century historian Ibn al-Dawadari tells us that al-Hakim destroyed the Church of Saint Mark in al-Fustat, Egypt (on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo), which Christians had built in defiance of a law forbidding new church construction. The al-Rashida mosque arose not only over the ruins of Saint Mark’s but also over Jewish and Christian cemeteries, surely an act of vandalism.

But the height of al-Hakim’s cruelties was the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, according to Muslim sources, began in September 1007. Also known as the Church of the Resurrection, this was possibly the most revered shrine in Christendom—considered not only Golgotha (or Calvary), where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified, but also the place where he was buried and hence the site of the Resurrection.

According to historian Moshe Gil, al-Hakim ordered that the Church of the Resurrection be torn down “to its very foundations, apart from what could not be destroyed or pulled up, and they also destroyed the Golgotha and the Church of Saint Constantine and all that they contained, as well as all the sacred gravestones. They even tried to dig up the graves and wipe out all traces of their existence.”

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Retouching the Egregious Distortions of the Crusades

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Retouching the Egregious Distortions of the Crusades

Review: November 2007 By Philip Blosser. Philip Blosser is Professor of Philosophy at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina.
God’s War: A New History of the Crusades.  By Christopher Tyer­man. Harvard University Press (Belknap). 1040 pages.

The Crusades are generally viewed today as the historical Western equivalent of the jihad — only, in this case, against Islam — a series of holy wars instigated by power-crazed popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are thought to have been the epitome of Western arrogance, self-righteousness, and intolerance — a shameful skeleton in the closet of the Catholic Church and the Western world. By their rampaging incursion into Palestine, Crusaders are supposed to have introduced proto-imperialist Western aggression and barbarism into the peaceful Middle East and debased the enlightened Islamic culture, leaving it in shambles. From Sir Steven Runciman’s classic three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, to the BBC/A&E documentary on the Crusades hosted by Terry Jones several years ago, one needn’t look far for variations on this theme. These pass for standard Western histories these days, even though they are as appallingly inaccurate as they are entertaining.

Thanks to the work of historians such as Jonathan Riley-Smith (Cambridge), Edward Peters (University of Pennsylvania), Donald E. Queller (University of Illinois, ret.), and Thomas Madden (St. Louis University), some of the more egregious distortions of this portrait are being retouched. Perhaps not all would go as far as Madden in describing the Crusades as defensive wars in direct response to Muslim aggression, but there is little question that the colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades were clearly attempts to meet the challenge of the Muslim conquests of Christian lands in the East. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that Crusading, far from being a lucrative undertaking, was notoriously bad as an economic investment. Many wealthy noblemen were practically bankrupted by mounting a Crusading expedition. Rather, as Peters shows, a spiritual purpose animated Crusaders: While killing was normally wrong, avenging the deaths of fellow Christians as instruments of God’s justice came to be seen as a positively redemptive undertaking. Crusading, as Riley-Smith has argued, was understood in this light as “an act of love” — articulated as a self-sacrificial ideal in Christ’s words, “Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). In Madden’s view, the two primary goals of the Crusades were, first, to rescue Christians of the East who had been conquered by Muslim invaders and, second, to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which had been made holy by the Incarnation and earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Oxford historian Christopher Tyerman is no stranger to the views embodied either in the textbook tradition represented by Runciman’s classic history of the Crusades or the more recent corrective — others would say “revisionist” — efforts represented by Riley-Smith and others mentioned above. Tyerman’s perspective is that of a self-consciously Western secular European, trying to offer as even-handed an account of the Crusades as possible. He does not cynically assume that the Crusades were motivated only by politics and economics, or that they were precursors of colonialism and racism. Instead, he respectfully corrects the errors and untenable suppositions underlying these earlier views of the Crusades, while also giving due respect to prior scholarship where it is warranted. He neither demonizes Islam nor engages in Euro-bashing. Rather than configuring the past as “comfortingly different from the present” or as a “mirror to the present,” he undertakes to explore the history of the Crusades “as far as possible on its own terms.”

Tyerman thus seeks to avoid two common pitfalls of historical interpretation. The first is seen in an attitude of “condescending historical snobbery” that dismisses our ancestors as less educated, less refined, more brutal, credulous, and hypocritical than we are today. This attitude is simply born of ignorance. The second is to presume direct causal connections between atrocities committed by Crusaders and terrorist acts committed by Muslim jihadists today, or direct parallels between U.S. strategies today and the medieval Crusades. Tyerman does not excuse the Crusaders’ slaughter or exonerate Christendom for its sanctification of it; neither does he vilify medieval Christianity.

Perhaps nothing so clearly illustrates Tyerman’s nuanced approach to his subject as his treatment of the Fourth Crusade and its notorious sacking of Constantinople, which is usually portrayed as an irrefutable indictment against the whole Crusading endeavor. By all accounts, excesses were committed in the sacking of Constantinople. However, as Tyerman writes, “the indiscriminate violence and pillage of the assault was reined in the day after the crusaders’ entry…. The sack of Constantinople was an atrocity, but in terms of the day not a war crime.” Tyerman repeatedly points out that a concern that surfaced during the Crusades was whether or not their battles met the criteria for a “just war.” The Crusaders did not view their own cause in every instance as being automatically just, but as one that frequently needed to be reviewed and justified.

No less unsparing is Tyerman in his efforts at even-handed and brutal honesty where it concerns memories painful to Christians, as in the Jewish pogrom of 1096. After a detailed account of forced baptisms and slaughter, he writes: “The lust for money alone cannot explain the consistent flouting of canon law and religious teaching witnessed by the repeated forcible conversions. Nothing in official Christian doctrine justified slaying Jews. Pope Alexander II had explicitly prohibited it….”

Crusading, of course, finally waned in European history. The last formal Crusade was the Holy League against the Ottomans in 1684-1699. According to Tyerman, it was the weakening of papal power and the rise of secular governments in Europe that finally doomed the Crusading impulse in Europe. This did not mean that the Crusading spirit died out altogether. “Crusading, far from an anachronism, provided one impetus for the European age of discovery,” he writes. “In presenting a spiritualized vision of reality, it recognized the temporal world and the actual experience of man while offering to transform both.”

Tyerman’s is a massive and monumental book. Many medievalists have hailed it as the single best book on the Crusades to date, as one that may supplant, if not surpass, Runciman’s three-volume classic. God’s War is truly encyclopedic, treating not only the conventional Crusades in the East, but the Albigensian Crusades in France, as well as the Crusades in Spain, the Baltic, and Balkans. It brings us to the summits to view the panoramic historical sweep and recollect the insights gleaned in the course of the journey.

Submitted by Doria2

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Catholic Church Policy Towards the Israelies and the Palestinians

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“The root of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is not religious or ethnic; it is purely political. The problem dates back to the creation of the state of Israel and the partitioning of Palestine in 1948 – following the persecution systematically organized against the Jews – decided by the great powers without taking into consideration the populations present in the Holy Land. This is the real cause of all of the wars that followed. In order to remedy a grave injustice committed in Europe against one third of the world’s Jewish population, Europe itself, supported by other powerful nations, decided to commit and committed a new injustice against the Palestinian population, which was innocent in the slaughter of the Jews.”

Having said this, Fr. Samir maintains in any case that the existence of Israel is today a matter of fact that cannot be rejected, independently of its original sin. This is also the official position of the Holy See, which has long been in favor of two states, Israeli and Palestinian.

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