Pope Benedict XVI on Monday opened a synod, or working meeting, at the Vatican to address the growing violence against and intimidation of Christian communities in the Middle East.
But the gathered Catholic leaders just couldn’t help spending most of the day bashing Israel over its preliminary approval of a new law that would require prospective new citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as “a Jewish and democratic state.”
“You cannot announce, publish and affirm to be a democratic state and a civil democracy then at the same time say ‘in our democracy we require such things,’” declared Antonios Naguib, Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, who chaired the opening day discussions. “I see it is a flagrant contradiction.”
While they were busy skewering Israel for daring to define itself as “Jewish,” and requiring potential new Christian citizens to do the same, the Catholics naturally did not broach the fact that were a Christian to define any other Middle East country as anything but Muslim, he or she would likely be killed.
Benedict also toed the line of political correctness.
The pope did open the session by stating that “terrorist ideologies” based on “false gods” were behind the region’s troubles, and must be unmasked. However, he did not once identify these terrorist ideologies as being part of or branches of Islam.
The fact is that Christian communities across the Middle East have been under assault, physical and otherwise, for decades, and are rapidly shrinking.
Towns like Bethlehem that are so central to the Christian faith are today home to huge Muslim majorities after much of the Christian population sought asylum in the West. The flight of Christians from places like Bethlehem and Iraq is often the result of physical attacks and social intimidation.
Unfortunately, with the Vatican playing footsie with the “moderate” Muslims and spending the bulk of its time wailing about a minor Israeli legal amendment that hasn’t even yet been voted on, it is unlikely that the synod will bring about any positive change for Christians in the Middle East.