It is no secret that the Vatican has always been hostile to the idea of the modern State of Israel, the Jewish state, in the holy land. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that the Vatican did not enter into diplomatic relations with Israel and officially recognize the State of Israel until 1994 — over 45 years after it’s establishment and recognition by the International community. It only did so then, so it could have a greater say and influence over the start of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. On the other hand, the Vatican recognized the non-existant State of Palestine in February 2013 and signed a historic treaty covering the life and activity of the Church in Palestine in May 2015. On January 14, 2017 a Palestinian embassy opened in Vatican City.
Why the stark difference emanating from the Vatican between recognition of the internationally recognized State of Israel and the non-existant Palestinian State?
As reported on the Times of Israel. Jews 'settlers' in their own capital city — Jerusalem?
Theodore Herzl recorded in his diary on May 19, 1896 after a meeting with a Papal diplomat in regards to Herzl’s proposed Jewish State, that, “I believe Rome will be against us, because she does not consider the solution of the Jewish Question in a Jewish state, and perhaps even fears it.”
(Pages 95-96, The Vatican and Zionism, Sergio Minerbi)
About four months before the first Zionist congress, the Jesuit Journal Civilta Cattolica, published an article which clearly stated the theological grounds for the Catholic opposition to Zionism:
“1827 years have passed since the prediction of Jesus of Nazareth was fulfilled, namely that is that Jerusalem would be destroyed … that the Jews would be led away to be slaves among all the nations, and that they would remain in the dispersion till the end of the world … According to the Sacred Scriptures, the Jewish people must always live dispersed and wandering among the other nations, so that they may render witness to Christ not only by the Scriptures … but by their very existence. As for a rebuilt Jerusalem, which could become the center of a reconstituted state of Israel, we must add that this is contrary to the prediction of Christ Himself.”
(Page 96, The Vatican and Zionism, Sergio Minerbi)
In 1948 when the state of Israel was proclaimed the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano stated: “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.”
Not only does the Vatican despise the Jewish people having sovereignty over the Church’s holy sites, they also have theological reasons for being against the Jewish state. In the Church’s view, in their own words, they are the true Israel. They see themselves as the kingdom of God on earth. Their traditional view was that the Jews should be continually dispersed among the nations as a witness to their belief. Their stated basis for their rejection of modern Zionism and the modern State of Israel, was that it was a “secular state”. Today as the nation becomes much more religious, it accentuates the question — who is the true Israel?
In a meeting between Pope Pius X and Herzl on January 25, 1904, Herzl recorded in his diary the remarks of the Pope:
“I know, it is not pleasant to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. We simply have to put up with that. But to support the Jews in the acquisition of the Holy Places, that we cannot do.”
(Page 100, The Vatican and Zionism, Sergio Minerbi)
The United Nations partition plan from 1947, has Jerusalem as part of neither country.
This special status of Jerusalem, is in accordance with the wishes of the Vatican.
Due to the theological challenge to the Catholic faith, it is preferable for them to have an Arab people in possession of Jerusalem rather than the Jews. This explains their support for Palestinian Arab statehood, their support for Arafat and subsequent PLO leaders, even despite their connections to terrorism. While it may be preferable to the Vatican to have the Muslims in charge of Jerusalem rather than the Jewish state, this is not their goal. Their goal is the internationalization of Jerusalem, or for there to be a special status for Jerusalem and the Holy Places, amounting to Vatican sovereignty — as much as could be achieved. The Vatican’s goal has been very clear in this regard since the days of Herzl.
A report on the Israeli News site, Ynet on January 4, 2006, had the headline, “Vatican also wants Jerusalem?” The report covered the remarks of David Jaeger at a conference at Haifa University. He stated that the fate of Jerusalem could not be left up to the Israelis or Palestinians. He said, “Any solution to the status of Jerusalem needs the approval of the international community.” Once one considers how much influence the Vatican has in the world, amongst nations with Catholic sympathies, essentially any solution to the status of Jerusalem needs the approval of the Vatican.
A report on Yahoo News on December 13, 2001, entitled “Vatican says no peace until Israel quits territories”, contained the main requirements the Vatican sought in any peace agreement. Achieving peace was not the final goal in the Vatican’s view — but what they term a “just peace”. This is a peace that meets the requirements of the Church. The Vatican statement listed fundamental points for any peace agreement, “security for Israel, the birth of a state for the Palestinian people, the evacuation from occupied territories, an internationally guaranteed special status for the most sacred parts of Jerusalem and a fair solution for Palestinian refugees.”
In other words, in the Vatican’s view, any peace agreement must contain the creation of a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel, the evacuation of Jews living in occupied territories — this is Judea and Samaria, called the West Bank, and a Vatican agreed upon, guaranteed special status for Jerusalem.
The theological basis for the Vatican’s rejection of the Jewish state, makes them especially dislike the religious Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria. These religious Zionists are abhorrent to the Vatican.
A Reuters report on YNET news, on October 23, 2010, with the headline, “Vatican body asks UN to ‘end Israeli occupation’”, reported on the final statement of a Vatican bishops’ synod two week conference. The report summary paragraph read, "Israel cannot use the Biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new "settlements" in Jerusalem or territorial claims, a Vatican synod on the Middle East said on Saturday.” The article continued:
"In a separate part of the document, a section on cooperation with Jews, the synod fathers also took issue with Jews who use the Bible to justify settlements in the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967.
"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the document said.
"Many Jewish settlers and right-wing Israelis claim a biblical birthright to the West Bank, which they call Judea and Samaria and regard as a part of historical, ancient Israel given to the Jews by God.”
It was no surprise then, when President Trump was to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, that the leader of the Palestinian Arabs, didn’t first go running to any Arab leader for support or help, the Jerusalem Post headline on December 5, 2017 said, “Abbas urges Putin, Pope to intervene ahead of Trump decision.” Yes, these are the supporters who are seeking to remove Jewish sovereignty from Jerusalem! Putin and the Pope.
This week in an opinion piece published in the UK Guardian newspaper, the Orthodox patriarch, Theophilos III wrote that Jewish settlers are a threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land. He specifically referred to two Old City Hotels, The Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel, just inside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. Apparently the Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim, leased the buildings for 99 years and the Orthodox Church is trying to back out of the deal.
Ateret Cohanim is an organization which works to restore Jewish life to all of Jerusalem and in particular parts of the city where Jewish life was extinguished by war or violence. Daniel Luria, the Executive Director explains what is happening:
“We have to understand that we are part of this phenomenal unfolding redemption process. And part of it is a physical redemption and part of it is a spiritual redemption. Ateret Cohanim, I would say is part of the physical redemption process, to make sure that there is going to be greater Jewish life here, because there’s not going to be any temple when there’s all these mosques, and hatred and Arabs and Muslims around here and hardly any Jewish life. And when we came back in 67, when the flood gates to redemption were opened up, there was zero Jews here.”
Daniel goes on to explain that there are now 1000 Jews living in what is now known as the Muslim quarter — an old Jewish area, that the area of the ancient city of David is now half Jewish and half Arab, and the other side of Silwan (what used to be Shiloach, the Jewish Yemenite village), is now seeing a significant revival of Jewish life. This is who the Orthodox patriarch, sees as Jewish settlers that are a threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
The Vatican will take a very dim view of these events and the continued Jewish building in the areas that it would like to see Jewish life evacuated. As this building has largely been sanctioned by the Trump administration in the White House, it is continuing at a faster rate .
On January 9 the Jerusalem Post reported that "Israel is set to approve the construction of nearly 1300 new settler homes in 2018”
"Israeli authorities were due to approve on Wednesday the construction of 1,285 housing units to be built in 2018 and advance planning for 2,500 others in about 20 different settlements, Lieberman said in a statement."
On November 14, 2017 Jerusalem's Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and said that Israel must, "Prepare for One Million Jewish Settlers in the West Bank” The article continued, “This will happen - it is only a question of when,” Elkin said, adding that it could be anywhere between the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the pace of construction."
Meanwhile, the EU, trumpeting the Vatican’s position, as reported by the Times of Israel with the headline, "EU urges Israel to reverse approval of latest settlement homes”, said,
"Spokesperson says a 1,000 new Israeli units in the West Bank 'will further jeopardize the prospect of a contiguous and viable future Palestinian state'
"UN peace envoy blasts Israel for entrenching a ‘one-state reality’ with settlements
"The United Nations envoy for the Mideast slams Israel for approving over 1,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank, saying the move is incompatible with a two-state solution.”
A Religious Crusade
We see a growing religious crusade against the Jewish state. This is exactly as the prophets foretold.
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.
Daniel 11:45 says, "And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the sea and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” This is a religious act and therefore the invasion of the King of the North in Daniel 11 is a religious crusade.
In Revelation 16, the source of the spirit or teaching which gathers the nations to the battle of Armageddon, is the False Prophet, and therefore, again, a religious crusade.
We see this religious crusade taking shape and the seeds of it are a reality in our world today. This developing crisis will bring the King of Israel, the rightful heir to the Jewish throne of King David and the restored kingdom of God to power. May that day soon come.
This has been David Billington with you for the Bible in the News, at www.bibleinthenews.com. Thanks for listening and as always, come back next week, God willing.