Tribulation Times Special Report
December 20, 2001
WHAT FUTURE FOR HOLY LAND CHRISTIANS?
"Peace between the two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians will only be established if there is respect for law and equity on fundamental questions: security for the state of Israel, the establishment of a State for the Palestinian People, Israelís evacuation from the Occupied Territories, a guaranteed international Special Status for the Holy Places in Jerusalem, a just solution for Palestinian refugees."EDITOR'S COMMENTARY: The Pope, as leader of the Catholic Church, is obligated to look after the welfare of Palestinian Christians. In addition he must be assured that all Christians, particularly Catholics, have access to the holy sites located throughout Israel but especially in Jerusalem.
This was part of a declaration made by Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, after Pope John Paul IIís meeting with the Bishops of the Holy Land, on the theme "The future of Christians in the Holy land".
There are some who would argue that the land of Israel has been given specifically by God to the Jewish people as their inheritance. They argue that any efforts by the Pope to allocate land to the Palestinian people within the outlines of this territory is an attempt to subvert the purposes of God. However do the Palestinian Christians not have an equal claim to these promises of God? Are they not just as entitled to inhabit these lands as the Jewish people?
(Rom 8:17) Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Rom 11:24) After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
These verses written by the Apostle Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin, describe how the Lord in His great kindness has grafted believing Gentiles (Christians) into His family as co-heirs of His promises. Though it is true that believing Gentiles have not replaced the Jewish people with regards to God's promises, it is equally true that the Jews are no longer the sole beneficiaries of them.
(Gal 3:28-29) There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Eph 3:6) This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
The Vatican has released a new document on the Christian-Jewish relationship that explores this further.
Thus in insuring that the rights of Palestinian Chrisitians to live, work and worship in peace are respected, the Pope is acting in accordance with Scripture and in the spirit of Christianity. The terrible sufferings in the daily life of Palestinians have been well illustrated by the press.
It is tragic that Palestinian Muslim extremists are continually working towards "pushing the Jews into the sea". Unfortunately, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is the elected representative of the Palestinian people. Given a choice I am certain that the Pope would rather not negotiate with Arafat, whose history of terrorism is reprehensible. Witness the following recent quote of Palestinian president Arafat:
In Ramallah Arafat said in December, two days after publicly banning suicide attacks: ďI would sacrifice 70 martyrs to kill one Israeli.ĒBut since there is no separate president of Palestinian Christians, the Pope has no choice but to meet with Arafat, their elected representative, in his attempts to ensure a continued Christian presence in the Holy Land.
Likewise the Pope's representatives continually must negotiate with the government of Israel to ensure that access to holy sites is never denied to Christian pilgrims and that Palestinian Christians are treated with equity. Otherwise, as recently described by the Franciscan Custody, "the continued violence will turn holy places into museum stones."
SEE ALSO: What Is It Like to Be a Palestinian Christian? Palestinian Christians could disappear altogether in the Holy Land within a generation.
(Psa 122:6) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May those who love you be secure.