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Simon Wiesenthal Center Urges Pope Benedict XVI to Denounce Archbishop Who Denied Jewish People’s Link to Land of Israel

October 25, 2010

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Pope Benedict XVI to immediately denounce a statement by Melkite Catholic Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros at a Vatican Synod on the Middle East wherein he asserted that, “We Christians cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people. The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians.” He added that, “[t]he justification of Israel’s occupation of the land of Palestine cannot be based on sacred scriptures.”

“This political stunt, wrapped in theological garb, not only insults every Jew but flies in the face of the statements and actions of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, both who have visited Israel and expressed solidarity with her people,” charged Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, dean and founder and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, respectively, who have had audiences with both Pontiffs. “The Archbishop’s statement comes at the end of the conference wherein the so-called “Palestine Kairos Document” -- which openly denies the right of Israel to be a Jewish state--was presented at the Vatican for the first time. These developments demand immediate action by the Pope. Hopes for peace in the Middle East will only come when both sides recognize the rights of the others. These latest moves, left unchallenged, will damage interfaith relations and embolden anti-Semites and terrorists,” they concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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