The Israeli State, established in 1948 on the back of a Zionist settler campaign of terrorist bombings and massacres of Arab civilians, has caused the Christian population of the Holy Land to all but disappear; destroyed and driven into exile by Israeli Zionists.
In a joint statement issued alongside the Anglican and Lutheran Bishops Emeritus of Jerusalem, Catholic Archbishop Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, has reminded Catholics that “the Israeli military occupation and colonization of Palestine is the root cause of the on-going conflict.”
The Zionist colonisation of Palestine, the murderous terrorist campaigns carried out by Jewish settlers to achieve their aims, and the military occupation of Palestine by the Zionist State has been consistently opposed and condemned by the Catholic Church for spiritual, moral, theological, and practical reasons.
In 1904 the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, was received in audience by Pope Saint Pius X. The holy pope told Herzl in no uncertain terms that the Christian Church could only oppose the Zionist movement and the colonisation of Palestine by European Jews.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem writes that:
“On Friday, February 21, 2020, thousands of Israeli settlers entered with no permission and gathered on the land lot belonging to the Latin Patriarchate in Tayasir, near Tubas in northern West Bank, in clear violation of private property.
The settlers held a march from Al-Burj bloc (bloc No. 4, plot No. 4) to Um el-Kaba bloc (bloc No. 3, plot No. 4) within the Patriarchate property, in a demonstration.
It should be mentioned that settlers brought their cows, some days ago, to the Patriarchate lands and caused considerable damage there.
It should be mentioned also that the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem protested to the Israeli authorities on similar violations of its property near Tayasir by settlers, but – so far – violations to our property continues to take place while the authorities are practically not prohibiting them.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is very concerned not only from the settlers’ violations of its properties, but also from the lack of action by the Israeli authorities to put an end to such offences.
We urge the Israeli authorities, once again, to make sure that law to be respected by all people under their control and to ban further illegal breaking into our properties.”
The Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land have condemned the U.S. government plan to dispossess the Palestinian people of even more of their land, dismissing it as a unilateral plan endorsing Israel’s political agenda.
“It does not give dignity and rights to the Palestinians. It is to be considered a unilateral initiative, since it endorses almost all the demands of one side, the Israeli one, and its political agenda” whilst at the same time denying “the just demands of the Palestinian people for their homeland, their rights and dignified life.”
The Christian Church has always opposed the Zionist agenda. Theodor Herzl, who is known as ‘the father of Zionism’, approached Pope Saint Pius X in 1904 to try and gain his support for the creation of a Zionist State in Palestine:
“How can we, without abandoning our highest principles, agree to their being given possession of the Holy Land” – Cardinal Merry del Val (January 1904)
“How can we deliver up the country of our Redeemer to a people of a different faith? “ – Cardinal Merry del Val (1st April 1904)
“We cannot give approval to the movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem, but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctioned by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church, I cannot tell you anything different.” – Pope St. Pius X (January 1904)
“The Holy See has never approved the project of making Palestine a home for the Jews,” – Cardinal Luigi Maglione, Pope Pius XII‟s Secretary of State (3rd March 1943)
“I have long been troubled by the way so many believing Christians in the West have either been ignorant of or turned their backs on the plight of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim. Right-wing Evangelicals, under the sway of heretical theology, are so blinded by their obsession with Israel that they cannot see Israel’s victims. Other Western Christians simply just do not know or about the people of Palestine.
I find this state of affairs to always be distressing, but especially so at Christmas time, since the Christmas story we celebrate not only took place in that land, it continues to define the lives of the Palestinians who live in places like Bethlehem and Nazareth.”
‘The last generation’: How occupation is driving Christians out of Palestine
Pilgrims flock to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas, but Palestinian Christians fear for the survival of their own community in the land of Jesus’ birth
“If the international community does not stop Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians,” the technical director of Al-Watania [Media Agency] told me, “you will not see any Christians in Gaza within a decade.”
There are two Christian communities in Gaza – Catholic and Orthodox — but there are no precise statistics for them. Neither of the two Churches in Gaza keeps such records, but according to Tarazi there were more than 30,000 Christians in Gaza in 1948. By 1987, though, when the First Intifada started, the number was only 18,000 and it has continued to decline because of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. By 2006 there were just 2,500 Palestinian Christians in the enclave. “Today,” said Tarazi, “there are only 800.”
According to the director of public relations at Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza’s Old City, it is indeed the Israeli aggression which is the main reason for the declining Christian population in the besieged territory. “We are part of the Palestinian people and we are affected by everything that affects everyone else,” Kamel Ayyad pointed out. “We experience all forms suffering under the Israeli occupation like our fellow citizens. Christians who left Gaza and those who are thinking of leaving are escaping from the occupation, siege and military offensives. They are looking for stability and freedom of movement.”
“We are an integral part of the Palestinian people, yet we are virtually invisible for those in the White House who claim to care about Christianity,” witnesses Fr. Emmanuelle Awwad, parish priest of the Palestinian village of Aboud.
“When they talk about ‘Christianity,’ they seem to be reading from a different Bible.”
Before twentieth-century mass immigration of European Jews to the Holy Land and the vicious Zionist terror campaign that bombed, shot and murdered Palestinian civilians, British civil servants, policemen and soldiers – which eventually led to the imposition of the State of Israel upon the Palestinians in 1948, with the resulting wholesale destruction of Palestinian villages along with the death and forced exile of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families – Palestinian Christians constituted more than ten-percent of the Holy Land. Today, less than two-percent.
The Church vehemently opposed Zionism and warned, if implemented, it would lead to the destruction of Christianity in the Holy Land.
“How can we deliver up the country of our redeemer to a people of a different faith? ” – Cardinal Merry del Val (1st April 1904)
The Christian Patriarchs of the Holy Land and heads of other churches including the Anglicans and Lutherans have issued a joint statement condemning the deceitful sale of hotels in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem to what the Patriarchs described as an “extremist group” of Zionist settlers.
Other strategically-placed buildings were also stealthily obtained in the Moslem quarter and it could result in worshippers and pilgrims being denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the holy places of Jerusalem
A Zionist organisation called Ateret Cohanim obtained the properties in Christian Jerusalem fourteen years ago by using foreign-based third parties as intermediaries to secretly buy the properties from the Greek Orthodox patriarchate. The attempted sale has been subject to a legal dispute for the past fourteen years but on 10th June the Israeli Supreme Court rubber-stamped the sale in favour of the Zionists.
The joint statement of the patriarchs warned that if the Zionist group “manages to evict the protected tenants and take over those properties, Christians and pilgrims would lose their main access to the Christian Quarter of the Old City.”
“The actions of this radical group do not only mean an assault on the property rights of the Greek Orthodox Church, but an assault on the status quo protections for all Christians in this holy city of Jerusalem and deeply threatens the Christian presence in our beloved Holy Land.”
“An attempt to undermine the presence of one Church here undermines all the Churches and the wider Christian community around the world. We reaffirm our belief that a vibrant Christian community is an essential element in the preservation of Jerusalem’s historically diverse society and a prerequisite for peace in this city.”
“ “O little town of Bethlehem/How still we see thee lie/Above thy deep and dreamless sleep/The silent stars go by,” runs the famous Christmas carol sung all over the English-speaking world as it celebrates Christmas…….. In today’s Bethlehem “dreamless sleep” is more like a nightmare, and the town can only “lie still” when Israel’s occupation ends.”
“Catholics would be injured in their religious sentiment and rightly fear for their rights if Palestine would belong exclusively to the Hebrews,” – Cardinal Luigi Maglione, Pope Pius XII‟s Secretary of State (7th April 1943)
Not content with bulldozing precious olive groves and the villages of Palestinians to clear the way for new Israeli settlers, and all this in a land which the Israeli State illegally occupies in the first place as a result of a horrendous campaign of terrorism directed against Christian and Moslem Palestinians as well as British Mandate troops and civil servants, the State of Israel has begun to quite brazenly steal land from the Church.
Church owned land will increasingly be targeted by the Israeli State after it seized an initial 66 acres owned by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the Jordan Valley, at the end of November. It’s expected that local Palestinian families will also be forcefully removed from the area to make way for new Israeli settlements.
The Latin Patriarchate issued an official condemnation of Israel’s policy, which can be read here.
“We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem — but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people.”
– Pope Saint Pius X to Theodor Herzl, ‘Father of the State of Israel’ in response to Herzl attempting to get support for the Zionist project in 1904.
Zionists have forcibly and murderously stolen much of the land from the Palestinian people, now they are trying to seize Church-owned buildings and land as well.
“Jerusalem’s famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre has shut indefinitely in an unprecedented move amid a fierce row with the Israeli government.
The church is the holiest site in Christianity and is held to contain the two sites where Jesus was crucified then buried and resurrected.
It is highly unusual for the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic denominations, who all share custody of the church, to agree to a stance as dramatic as closing the whole site and tensions between denominations often run high over control of its various chapels and compartments.
But the separate leaders issued a joint statement saying the move was ‘in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land’.
The shock move comes amid a tense fallout with the Israeli government over a bill that would give the Israeli government power to confiscate church property. The ‘Bill of Church Lands’, sponsored by Israeli settler groups and signed by 40 members of Israel’s Knesset, was branded ‘discriminatory and racist’ as well as ‘abhorrent’ in the strongly worded statement signed by Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land and Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.
It amounts to a ‘systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land’, the church leaders said in a statement on Sunday.”