Catholic Churches’ Criticism of Israel’s Nation-State Law

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BIN: Last week, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries issued a statement calling on Israel to rescind its Nation-State Law. The law, though controversial, has no real practical implications but the push-back from the Catholic Church may do serious damage to Jewish-Christian relations which have been steadily improving since the Second Vatican Council more than 50 years ago.

The law, passed by the Knesset in July is also known as the Basic Law. Though it bears no practical implications, the law has been controversial since it was first proposed in 2011, drawing fire from various parties within the Israeli Knesset as well as from outside of Israel.

According to the law, Israel would be defined as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and the right to self-determination in Israel would be unique to the Jewish people. The state of Israel should establish ethnic communities where every resident may preserve their culture and heritage. Hebrew would be considered the official language of the state while Arabic would be granted a special status. The Hebrew calendar would become the official calendar of the state of Israel, and Hebrew law would serve as an inspiration to Israeli legislators. more …

Opinion: Catholic/Jewish relations have been horrible since the early church fathers, Chrysostom and Augustine, conjured up Replacement theology, that God transferred the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant to the church because of Israel’s transgression. Killers of Christ, they said.

Estimates of the number killed by the Spanish Inquisition alone, which Pope Sixtus IV authorized in a papal bull in 1478, have ranged from 30,000 to 300,000. Some historians are convinced that millions died.

It got no better in the Reformation as Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, despite discovering grace through faith and not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9) in Scripture, was unable to shed his anti-Semitic roots. In his book “The Jews and Their Lies”,  Luther wrote that the “Jews are a serpent’s brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them”.

While the Catholic church held fast to Jewish hatred, Protestant denominations that split from the church kept the teaching that is still in place today.

In 1965, the Vatican issued ‘Nostra Aetate’ an attempted step forward in Jewish-Christian reconciliation. The document declared that Catholicism distanced itself from replacement theology and withdrew blame from Jews for the death of Jesus, creating a space for Jewish-Catholic relations where there had been only enmity.

Unfortunately, Nostra Aetate was only translated into Hebrew in 2017 and the Catholic leadership in Israel and the PA have never accepted any positive developments of Jewish-Catholic relations for the last 53 years.

In a not so veiled slap to Israel, on January 14, 2017, Pope Francis welcomed the first Palestinian embassy on European soil on the eve of the 70 nation Paris peace talks.

Image result for palestinian embassy at vatican

On December 6, 2017 President Donald Trump authorized the movement of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to which Pope Francis said he could not “keep silent about my deep concern” for Jerusalem and urged respect for “the status quo of the city in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

Status quo turned into over 500 rockets fired from Gaza to southern Israel last week.

For more on Replacement Theology, see Bible Prophecy 101 chapter 3 here