The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Pope Benedict XVI to immediately denounce a statement
by Melkite Catholic Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros at a Vatican Synod on the Middle East wherein he denied the Jewish people's link to the Land of Israel.
The archbishop asserted, "We Christians cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people. The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians.”
He added that "the justification of Israel’s occupation of the land of Palestine cannot be based on sacred scriptures.”
“This political stunt, wrapped in theological garb, not only insults every Jew but flies in the face of the statements and actions of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, both who have visited Israel
and expressed solidarity with her people,” charged Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, dean and founder and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, respectively, who have had audiences with both Pontiffs.
“The archbishop’s statement comes at the end of the conference wherein the so-called 'Palestine Kairos Document' – which openly denies the right of Israel to be a Jewish state - was presented at the Vatican for the first time.
"These developments demand immediate action by the Pope. Hopes for peace in the Middle East will only come when both sides recognize the rights of the others. These latest moves, left unchallenged, will damage interfaith relations and embolden anti-Semites and terrorists,” they concluded.
Another Jewish group, B’nai B’rith International, said it was deeply concerned that the just-concluded Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops indicates unsettling views regarding Jews and Israel among Catholic clergy and laity in the Arab world.
B’nai B’rith said it was greatly disappointed that rather than promoting reconciliation and self-reflection in the region, the assembly focused on amplifying Arab political positions and narratives on the Jewish state.