- Israel's leading rabbis on Tuesday told Pope Benedict XVI that it was his duty to spread the message that the Jewish people belong in the Land of Israel (Haaretz):
"You represent a large nation of believers that knows what the Bible is, and it is your duty to pass on the message that the Jewish people deserve a renaissance, and a little respect - to live in this land," Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar told the pope.
- The Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammad Hussein Benedict XVI called Tuesday a "play an active role to put an end to "aggression" Israel against the Palestinians during the visit of the pope on the esplanade mosque (YNet News).
- The Jerusalem Post is claiming that "agreed that the Catholic Church will cease all missionary activity among Jews":
In his welcoming address, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger thanked the pope for his announcement, calling it an "historic agreement and, "for us, an immensely important message."
Metzger also congratulated the pope on his arrival to "our holy land - the land to which we prayed to return during 2,000 years of exile... And, with God's help, our meeting today is taking place in the Land of Israel, in our city of Jerusalem - the eternal capital of the Jewish people.""Missionizing" is a loaded term, practically speaking. On one hand, the Catholic Church distinguishes itself as not having a specific "mission to the Jews," or involving itself in overt attempts to convert. On the other hand, this is not to say that the Church abandons the Great Commission.
For a good evaluation of where the Church actually stands on this question, see The discussion of the recent modifications of the prayer for the Jews for Good Friday , by Cardinal Walter Kasper (L'Osservatore Romano April 10, 2008) or "Judaism's Way of Salvation", by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn (The Tablet March 29, 2008).
Given the complete lack of corroboration by any other news media (or actual citation of the Pope's words") relating to this particular story, I'm inclined to believe these Rabbis are actually spinning the Pope's words to fit a preconceived agenda.
- Mundher Amira, a Palestinian on the planning committee for the visit to Camp Aida, plans to ask Pope Benedict XVI to help him and other refugees return to their homes in Israel on Wednesday (Jerusalem Post):
Statements like this, as well as plans for the pope at the camp, which had included hosting him on a stage next to the West Bank security barrier, have drawn harsh criticism from the Foreign Ministry.
The Palestinians "have not missed any opportunity to politicize" Benedict's visit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
"Their purpose is so clear and transparent you can read right through it. They are trying to divert the visit, to hijack it from being a pilgrimage with a message of interfaith reconciliation and unity and peace, and they are trying to draw him into political propaganda," Palmor said.
Amira has no problem with introducing politics into the visit, because it is precisely those politics that make daily life for him and others in the camp difficult.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Spinning the pilgrimage -- Israelis and Palestinians set the political agenda for the Pope
Poor Benedict! -- beset on all sides, with all parties attempting to set the agenda for him or put words into his mouth: