Got news? Vatican, Jews at odds

Last month a conflict erupted between Catholics and Jews, and it has gotten a good deal of attention in publications focusing on those community. But it still seems to be a complete non-issue for the mainstream media. Here's the background from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

The Vatican and the Jewish world are at odds over a U.S. bishop's rejection of a biblical rationale for Israel as a Jewish state.

Greek-Melkite Bishop Cyrille Salim Bustros of Newton, Mass., said at an Oct. 23 news conference that for Christians, "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."

Bustros was presenting the final document, or "Message," of a monthlong Vatican synod of Middle Eastern bishops.

The advent of Jesus, he said, meant that Jews "are no longer the preferred people, the chosen people; all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people." Bustros added that "sacred Scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine."

Not surprisingly, this caused quite the stir. The ADL's Abe Foxman, who may be a bit hypersensitive to these things, wrote in a letter to the Vatican's liaison to the Jewish community that Bustros had effectively said "Judaism should no longer exist."

The Vatican downplayed the controversy, but the riff in Catholic-Jewish relations was unmistakeable, particularly for those Jews who believe in the Jewish state -- the vast majority of Jews in both Israel and the Diaspora.

Next in the cycle of a news story were the op-eds. Here's one from the Jerusalem Post asking "What Bible is the Vatican reading?" and another from WorldNetDaily that asks the same question and states "If Jews aren't chosen, neither are we."

In the latter from WND, Joseph Farah, after quoting a bunch of passages that talk about Jews as God's chosen people, wrote:

I could go on and on. In fact, in Jeremiah 23:7, we are promised that this regathering of the Jews in Israel will one day be viewed as a bigger miracle than the Exodus: "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land."

Even more importantly for Christians, however, is the fact that our own salvation comes through the promises to the Jews. That's why it is so astonishing to me that we find this kind of illegitimizing of the prophets coming from the church. See Romans 11. As Paul wrote, by faith in Jesus, or Yeshua, a Jew, we are "grafted in" to the promises.

Now, you don't have to agree with that. And you don't have to believe that the state of Israel was predestined because the Bible talks about Jews returning home. But even the casual observer should at least be interested in the fact that a Synod of Catholic bishops would come out of a month-long session and deliver a message like Bustros did.

Add to that the history of tension between Catholics and Jews, from the Inquisition on through Catholic bishops being turned away from the Western Wall and blaming Israel for Christian flight from the MIdeast, and you have the makings of a very obvious news story.

It's a bit stale now, the omission is awfully glaring.

PHOTO: Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall, from a post about the former Vatican ambassador to Israel saying "it was better when there were no diplomatic relations."

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