The Roman Catholic Church chose the eve of Israel’s Independence Day to announce her recognition of Palestine as an independent nation. Rome is not the first church body to issue recognition to a purported nation that lives on stolen land and – despite poverty that crushes her people – lives on lust to kill body and spirit. But when Rome does this, it introduces a new dimension of evil.
The Vatican is headquarters to the largest portion of the Body of Christ; it is at the same time a sovereign nation. That makes it unique in Christendom. Theoretically, it can undertake any policy that pleases its leader. I say “theoretically” because – unlike other sovereign nations – the Vatican’s identity lives outside itself. That Identity expresses Himself through the Bible; it lays out parameters that make or break the legitimacy of communities – and nations – that swear to live by it. When the Vatican announces its recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state, it cancels its legitimacy by spitting in the eye of its founding documents.
I do not like calling out Pope Francis. There is much that is both good and Godly in this leader of 1.2 billion faithful who carries his own luggage and so physically reaches out to the poor and disenfranchised – not as constituencies but as individual persons. He reaches out to gays – who live in defiance of Church doctrine – not to compromise doctrine but to love as Jesus loves. He would do well to love the Palestinians as Jesus does without compromising the doctrine and overwhelming witness of the sacred Scriptures he swore to breathe when he was baptized, confirmed, and ordained.
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A Palestinian state does not meet internationally accepted criteria for nationhood. These are well known: recognized borders; permanent residents; independence; an organized transportation, economic, and educational system; and international recognition. The so-called state of Palestine falls woefully short. Its residents are citizens of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, not the mythical Palestine. Its economy is non-existent but for the subsidies paid by sympathetic nations, including Israel. They have neither shared history nor institutions. They are so non-independent they would have neither water nor electricity if the Israelis stopped supplying them. This is an independent nation?
The so-called Palestinian state is nothing but a staging area for terrorism that shields its fighters with its children. This was thoroughly exposed during the battles with Israel last summer – in the tactics used and the terror tunnels opened – tunnels stocked with hand-cuffs and tranquilizers for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Israeli children and civilians. Any nation recognizing this outfit as legitimate has caved in to terrorism; an avowedly Christian Body should know better and expect more courage of itself – at the very least.
But the primary issue remains primary. The Roman Church and pope are sworn to conform their belief and behavior to the tenets of the Bible. Nobody forces them; it is their chosen foundation. The Bible is shot through and through with God’s permanent plan for the Jews and the Jewish homeland. Every Old Testament prophet affirms the dimensions laid in the first books as timeless; the New Testament (Romans 9-11) makes clear we Gentiles depend on the Jews to guarantee our existence, not the reverse. For pre-believers, there is no obligation in Scripture. But for leaders sworn to uphold these truths, such a gross deviation as this recognition of a non-Jewish state occupying Jewish land and dedicated to Jewish destruction is nothing less than apostacy. Gross apostacy.
Break scripture and earn the title ‘apostate’ – as do the Episcopal Church and other progressive denominations – it is that simple. The good news is it is not too late for the Catholic Pope or for any of these other denominations and their leaders off wandering in the weeds. All they have to do – and this goes for the British, the French, and the other United Nations types who have thrown their lots after a terrorist organization as well – is get a clue and pull an about-face to embrace the reality that the only nation consistently practicing decency in the region is Israel–and the only nations practicing intermittent sanity are those joining her in opposition to Iran. So-called Palestine is not one of these. And the about-face of which I speak is the essence of what we call repentance.
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For these nations, it remains a question of good albeit essential policy, this repentance of which I speak. Their lives depend on backing the right horse in the nuclearized Middle East. But for Pope Francis and those he leads, it is a question of identity. At stake for them is their eternal life.
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