Recent events have reinforced the Vatican’s pro-Palestinian Arab stand in regards to Jerusalem and Israel. These include events during the latest pope’s visit to Israel and now Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to the Vatican for the canonization of two Palestinian Catholic Nuns, as well as the recognition by the Vatican of the State of Palestine.
Major new outlets and the media in general, reported during the visit that the pope said to Abbas, “You are an angel of peace.” Afterwards some said this was a mistranslation and what the pope actually said in Italian had the sense of exhorting or saying that Abbas had the potential to be “an angel of peace”. In any case, the pope had already called Abbas a “man of peace”, during his visit to Israel in May 2014.
How Abbas attained such lofty Papal titles is a mystery. The theme of Abbas' doctoral dissertation was "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism”, the contents of which many felt was Holocaust denial. While acknowledging the existence of the Holocaust in 2006 and 2014, Abbas has defended the position that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to perpetrate it. (Source: The Daily Beast, David N. Myers http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/23/abbas-alleges-link-between-zionists-and-nazis.html)
Catholic media also reported the “You are an angel of peace” quotation. The American Jesuit publication, "America - The National Catholic Review” reported, under the headline: "Pope to Abbas: ‘You Are an Angel of Peace’”, some more details of the Vatican visit.
"After his private conversation with the pope, the Palestinian President also talked with the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with State.
During their private face-to-face conversation, President Abbas “thanked” the pope for honoring the two Palestinian women, the Vatican said in a statement issued afterwards in different languages, including Arabic.
They also discussed “the peace process with Israel” and “expressed the hope that direct negotiations be resumed between” Israelis and Palestinians “in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict.” They “reiterated the wish” that “with the support of the International Community, Israelis and Palestinians may take courageous decisions to promote peace.””
This map shows the UN partition plan for Palestine in 1947. Note that Jerusalem,
Bethlehem and surrounding areas are "internationalized", according to Vatican
At a first read this may sound virtuous, such expressions as taking "courageous decisions to promote peace" may even have a veneer of holiness. Yet the Vatican does not simply want peace in the Middle East. It desires what it calls a "just and lasting solution to the conflict”. The Vatican’s goal for Jerusalem and the “holy places”, is for them to be internationalized. This has been expressed many times by the Vatican and also been included in various peace plans promoted by the United Nations (see the map pictured left). Sergio Minerbi in the book, “The Vatican and Zionism, Conflict in the Holy Land, 1895-1925” shows this very clearly during that time period with numerous documented quotations. One quotation is of particular interest, from a Swiss newspaper (Journal de Geneve) commenting on the Vatican and Zionism on April 25, 1917, which reads as follows:
“The matter preoccupying Vatican policy at present is that the Zionist dream should not be realized, and that instead of becoming a Jewish kingdom, Palestine, will remain a permanent possession of the Christian powers… It already seems almost certain that the Holy Land will be proclaimed international.”
Of particular interest is the reference to the “Jewish kingdom”. This is what the Vatican fears the most and is a challenge to it’s theology. The Vatican sees the Catholic Church as “Christendom” or “Christ’s Kingdom”. This prompted the official Vatican newspaper to publish on May 14, 1948, when the state of Israel was proclaimed that: “Modern Zionism is not the true heir of Biblical Israel, but a secular state … Therefore the Holy Land and its sacred sites belong to Christianity, the True Israel.” (Osservatore Romano, May 14, 1948). In Catholic theology the Jewish people were to remain a “witness people”, scattered and miserable, as a witness to their rebellion and for the crime of deicide - or killing God (As in Catholic theology, Jesus is God). It is worth noting that it was under the jurisdiction and power of Pilate, representing the Roman power that Jesus was condemned to death. One of the founders of religious Zionism, Tzvi Yehuda Ha’Cohen Kook observed that, “When the flag of the State of Israel was raised, all of the Vatican’s doctrines of the outcast, miserable Jews collapsed. We returned to our land, and it became clear that the Eternal One of Israel will not lie.” Theologically, Muslim rule over Jerusalem and the holy places is easier to swallow that Jewish rule for the Vatican.
Later in 1917 the British would liberate Palestine from the Turkish power and issue the Balfour declaration, promising that: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”
The Vatican took a dim view of the Balfour declaration and intensified it’s opposition to Zionism. Events were not moving in the direction of the internationalization of Jerusalem and the “holy places” under the auspices of the “Christian powers”.
It is important to understand what the Vatican means, when it uses the term “holy places”. Menerbi explains in his book, page 121.
“…the pope and the Zionist leaders differed greatly on the concept of the Holy Places. When they spoke of them, the Zionists meant the church buildings and places of worship of each of the Churches. The pope and the papal secretary of state, however, used the vague term “Holy Place” to refer to a considerable part of the territory of Palestine.”
In the book “Sparks from Zion”, David Rubin, the former major of Shilo observed during the pope’s visit to Israel, that:
“If it were justice that the pope was seeking in Bethlehem, he could have easily made reference to the ongoing persecution and violent intimidation of local Christians at the hands of the Palestinian Authority, which has rapidly shrunk the once robust 80% Christian population down to less that 15%.”
Why then would the pope support the Palestinian Authority? Would not the holy places be better protected by a Jewish government? As we have shown, the reason for this is theological. However well Israel may defend, offer open access and even autonomy to the “holy places”, none of this changes the fact that Israel is Jewish.
Menerbi summarizes Vatican opposition to Zionism with the following points (page 198):
1. "The Zionists were not religious and were even antireligious. Therefore, they were not fulfilling biblical prophecy and had nothing to do with the promised return to the Holy Land."
2. "Zionist immigration would sweep the Christians out of Palestine and would destroy the country’s Christian character."
3. "The possibility that a Jewish government would be formed was intolerable."
4. "The Jews were causing radical changes in the traditional life-style of the local population, and the accelerated modernization they were inducing was often damaging to moral values.”
It is worth noting that if, "The Zionists were not religious and were even antireligious”, they were certainly not trying to fulfill Bible prophecy as some now claim. This claim is also a double edged sword. For if the reason that Biblical prophecy was not being fulfilled was because of the non-religious nature of those Jews returning, what do we say about the emergence of religious Zionism which is gaining strength in Israel?
There is no question that the Vatican has been consistently opposed to Zionism for over a century. The theology of the Catholic church has not changed and neither have the reasons for opposing Israel. In fact the situation has become worse for the theology of the Church. Before 1967 the claim could be made that Israel was a largely secular nation (point 1 above), and that Israel didn’t control the old city of Jerusalem which was in the hands of Jordan, or the Biblical towns such as Bethlehem and all the others in Judea and Samaria, today know as the West Bank. Today Israel is rapidly becoming more religious, religious Zionism is growing and the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria is still under Israeli control.
Yassir Arafat gained leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1969 and began cross border guerrilla attacks on Israel from neighbouring Jordan. The PLO eventually tried to overthrow the Jordanian Monarchy and was expelled from Jordan and gained a foothold in Lebanon. The PLO continued it’s terror attacks on Israel from Lebanon, which led to the Lebanon war. The war led to a negotiated evacuation of the PLO to Tunisia. At this point Arafat was widely (and rightly) held as a terrorist. Yet, on route to Tunisia he was “...offered and swiftly accepted an audience with the pope. Israel’s foreign minister, Yitzhak Shamir, issued a formal denunciation of the deed: “The same Church that did not say a word about the massacre of Jews for six years in Europe, and did not say much about the killing of Christians in Lebanon for seven years, is willing to meet the man who … is bent on the destruction of Israel which would complete the work done by the Nazis of Germany. If the Pope is going to meet Arafat, it shows something about the moral standards of the Church.” … In December 1988, the pope received Yassir Arafat yet again - this time with the ceremony normally accompanying visits of a head of state.” (Quoted from “Christian Attitudes towards the State of Israel” by Paul Charles Merkley) The pope was to meet with Arafat 12 times. Yet the Vatican did not recognize the state of Israel and have diplomatic relations until 1993, when it should have been embarrassing to be in the company of those few nations that still had not recognized the Jewish state.
In light of the wider picture, the Vatican’s recent recognition of the State of Palestine, (which does not exist and seeks to create a state within the borders of another nation), calling Abbas an “angel of peace”, the canonization of saints and so on, is completely in sync with Vatican policy over the last century and Catholic theology for centuries - and in sync with Bible prophecy!
The prophecy of Joel 3, tells us about the time when Judah and Jerusalem will be regathered and when all nations will be gathered against them to battle. "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat..." Joel 3:9 says, "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up", The word here "prepare" is the verb to be holy, to consecrate. So the war against the regathered Jews of Judah and Jerusalem is a holy war - a consecrated war by the nations.
Zechariah 14 speaks of the time when there will be the great earthquake dividing the Mount of Olives, when living waters will go out from Jerusalem and Yahweh, "...shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” This is when the Israelitish kingdom of God is reestablished in the earth. Chapter 14 commences: "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle..." Zechariah 12 prophecies of different aspects of the same time.
"The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zechariah 12:1-3)
It is all the people of the earth, engaged in a holy war against the regathered Jews in Jerusalem and Judah. Little do the nations know that it is a trap and in reality they are going out to war against the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zechariah 14:3)
So we see all the seeds, theology and politics for a holy war to liberate the ‘holy places’ and bring them under “international” control. These are the seeds of Armageddon. Everything is in place for the “Great day of God Almighty”. Come back next week God willing to www.bibleinthenews.com as we continue to consider the signs of the times in the light of Bible Prophecy. This has been David Billington with you.