Vatican Aide: "Voice" of Synod Is Final Message

Responds to Critics That Say Assembly Was Anti-Israel

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- To understand the Mideast synod, it is necessary to read the final message its entirety, instead of focusing in on one or two voices, a Vatican spokesman affirmed in response to critiques coming from the Israeli government that the assembly was a forum for anti-Israeli sentiment.

In an interview on Vatican Radio today, the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, affirmed that the Message to the People of God of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was published Saturday, is the only "synthetic expression of the positions of the synod at this time," and that it's the "only text written together and approved by the synod."

"There was a great richness and variety of the contributions of the synod fathers," he explained, "but as such, one cannot consider each one as the 'voice' of the synod as a whole."

Additionally, he noted that reaction to the synod has been to a great extent favorable: "The evaluation of the synod in its entirety and of its working sessions, in the words of the Holy Father and in the common opinion of the participants and observers, appears largely positive."

Disappointment

His comments responded directly to the "disappointment" expressed by Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, that the synod, which concluded Sunday, had become "a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda." He added, in comments to the Jerusalem Post, that "the synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority."

The Israeli minister referred in particular to comments made Saturday at the presentation of the final message, during with the Greek-Melkite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros of Newton, Massachussets, said that "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 aded that "sacred Scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine."

The archbishop's comment was not an exact expression of the synod's message, in which the fathers said that it was time "to commit ourselves together to a sincere, just and permanent peace," and that "both Christians and Jews are called to this task by the Word of God."

"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the message continued, without specifically referring to Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
The final message also recognized the suffering of both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

On one hand, the fathers considered the sufferings of the Palestinians "who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees."

On the other hand, the fathers also considered the "suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live," and on "the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem."

The synod's message urged a "'just and lasting peace," and called on the international community "to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region."